Fall...13 mins 1.0K 13 mins 1.0K
Being a lowlife it has been my constant endeavor to look for opportunities to earn money by deceit, fraud, scam or whatever means possible. I have been part of gangs of low lives like me and worked as a lone wolf as well. Basically, I look for an opening to cheat people. At 24, I am expert at making a fool out of people and gain at the expense of unaware and innocent. I may distract people at busy places like markets, railway stations and bus stops and run away with their belongings or make a sob story about death in family or loss in business to get some loose change from charitable souls. I have used my friends to use this technique of distraction at red lights to take away bags or mobiles from cars. I have not yet reached levels of snatching of chains and mobiles though I feel am not far from that too.
I come from a humble background. My father is an auto driver and my mother works at homes of others as maid. I have a younger sister too who is very good at studies. She secured 88 percent marks in her class XII boards. She wants to be an engineer but our meager income resources have ensured that she will never get coaching for that from any reputed or even not so reputed institution. Even if she somehow clears examination, we do not have the kind of money to afford expensive education of university. I was never good at studies but was always smart. I cleared my matriculation in third attempt, thanks to the belt of my father. Since then me and studies have tried to avoid each other. My three exploits in matriculation had also convinced my father that I was not cut out for higher education.
My parents are low on finances but very high on morals. They talk about ethos, values, God and religion a lot. All crap that never fills your stomach. Being a conman, I know biggest swindlers are those who give dose of religion to naives like my parents. There is a constant war of opinions between me and my family. My father has not spoken to me for ages, which is fine by me. They hate what I do and never take single paise from my hard earned money. They call it sin money. I don’t care. Though I do wish my sister can get good coaching and realize her dream of being an engineer.
Even I have used religion by collecting money for Jagrans which were never supposed to take place. I have even collected money wearing skull cap, as Muslims do, to extract money for laying a Chadar at mazar of some peer Baba. I have to admit my income soared whenever I used religion. Its my dream to be a big Baba who can con hundreds and thousands of unsuspecting fanatics and live in splendor. The best technique of deception is blend of fear and religion.
I have always been in the small league of fraudsters, my income is not much. When my schemes are successful, I get a few hundred bucks and on a couple of occasions I had a jackpot of a few thousand rupees too. But my earnings are sporadic. Like lion of a jungle, I miss more and strike rare. I have to escape/run to save myself from police when I am caught red handed by some smart ass. Thrice I have been unlucky enough to get caught and have been in jail once, for six months. That brief stay in jail was very painful but after coming out I found it was not too bad a bargain. After jail stay my reputation or notoriety had increased in scamming circles and now I am getting offers to join organized gangs of swindlers.
While I felt fear at taking the next step on the ladder of swindlers world, the idea of more moolah attracted and excited me. One day I was approached by Kishan, a small time crook, like me. Although in our trade we trust nobody (as breaching trust is our business), he is as close to being a friend as anyone could get in our line of business. He confided in me that two well known con artists – Aman and Riyaz were on to a new scheme and were looking for small time thugs like us for doing the leg work. He assured that the scheme had a fool proof escape route and money involved was nothing like either of us had ever seen before. After some persuasion I agreed to meet Aman and Riyaz.
I met the two partners in a rented apartment in Paharganj. They told me about the scheme after I had sworn to join them and not to divulge it to anyone. I was even threatened with dire consequences if I failed to abide by my oath. Aggressive demeanor of 6 feet plus frame of Aman and pistols they carried, assured me that they were serious. Their scheme was simple. We were to take advantage of greed that is a basic trait in all human beings.
We were to approach slums and small colonies with low income group people. We would ask them to make soap for us, show them some beautiful brochures of websites like Amazon and Flipkart and tell them that we will sell soaps made by them to customers through these sites at exorbitant profits. Aman and Riyaz had created beautiful brochures and pamphlets and brand name of “Naz” (from last letters of their names). We would ask them to invest a small amount for purchase of raw material for making soap, give them back some amount at twice their investment and when they are ready to invest higher amounts because of huge demand for their good quality soaps, we will disappear with their investments.
The partners were using all their money they had cheated so far in their previous endeavors to make good promises to the people in initial stages as well as to clear expenditure like rent, stationery and pamphlets etc. They had already registered a firm to make it all look as legal as possible with their rented house as registered address of the firm. They had hired service of a software engineer who was actually a conman like us. His job was to print beautiful brochures and create forged documents to make the scheme look as authentic as possible. The partners told us that success of such schemes depends on optics, gloss and colors. To make the scheme look totally legitimate, it was decided to make initial payments by cheque only and for that firm had a bank account in its name. Obviously, later due to some financial complexities we will be forced to pay cash to our customers. We all knew no one will mind it, as it will be tax free.
As trust is always at premium in such schemes, we were asked to stay in a rented room in Paharganj near the firm’s office. We were given new mobile numbers and strictly advised to not discuss this scheme with our families. I lied to my family that I was in Lucknow, working as a salesman. My long absence from home was never an issue with my family as they assumed I was in jail if I did not return home for few days. Initially only I and Kishan started the business in slums of Delhi. Soon, the scheme caught fancy of people because of the handsome return and there were 10 of us making rounds of chosen slums, small localities and illegal colonies of Delhi. All of us stayed in rented rooms on twin sharing basis with minimum or no contact with others, as per rules laid down by the partners.
Everyone was given a false name and identity card for the job. Mine was Mukesh Singh. We were all given some fake feature to add to our personality, like limp, or bald skull or bushy eye brows or beard, so that people remember that when they inform to police about us when we disappear. I had a very pronounced limp in right leg. These low income people dream of a day when they will win some lottery and will become big shots overnight. This lust for money in one go, with little or no investment makes job of scamsters like us easy. Greed overpowers reasoning easily.
I was enjoying this new experience. All my earlier ventures felt like begging by deceit. Now I felt like a salesman. I always had a gift of the gab. I was good with people and was able to convince customers/targets easily about our scheme. The colored brochures, use of established names of websites like Amazon and Flipkart, our impressive clothing etc., all helped in encouraging people to come out and invest in our scheme. We used to ask people to invest Rs. 1000/- initially and give them material to make soap and a small demonstration on how to do it. Initially orders were not in large number but soon our targets got a return of Rs. 2168/- (round figures raise suspicion), enticing them to invest more as well as find more potential customers for us. As the scheme spread through word of mouth, our task became much easier. Before long, targets were calling us to entrap them as well. I was getting 10% commission on each investment I brought. By the end of first month itself I had grossed more than Rs. 12000, by far my biggest earning ever.
The greed was setting in slowly but surely, our investors were now depositing upto Rs. 10000/- with ease. Though we were paying them back only part of their investment on some pretext or other like the volumes were low, internet server of company was down or quality of soap produced by them did not match the high standards of company but still they were making profits on each investment and no suspicion ever arose in their mind. By the end of 3 months we were like family members and benefactors for them, making them realize their dreams. While, I had more than Rs. 1 lakh with me, our little firm Naz was in loss of more than Rs. 5 lakh due to heavier pay outs. The funds of Aman and Riyaz were now completely stretched out and they were ready to pull the plug.
The final chapter of the scheme was to unfold now. New bogus documents were given to us proving that a big firm in Finland (use of not so common countries make the story more believable and queries reduce) had ordered for soaps worth Rs. 80 crores from Naz. Forged documents also showed that Amazon and Flipkart were backing Naz on this order because of our good quality product. But the time line to produce such a big order was too steep. On our next visit to our investors, we went with sweet boxes and gifts (even liquor in some cases for males) to celebrate the success of the company and to thank them for being part of it. We bombarded them with all the big numbers and showed them rosy dreams of huge profits they could earn. We showed them personal letter from Naman and Zarine (fake names of Aman and Riyaz, first letters of these names make Naz), whereby they declared that for this particular order they were reducing their margin from meager 5% to even lower 2% so that the investors can earn more. They were requested to invest as heavily as they could, within next 3 days and they would be given the raw material and returns on investment within 5 days of delivery of soaps by the investors.
I had 89 targets on my roll and as advised by the two partners I picked 23 of them who I knew were more vulnerable. While the scheme was discussed with all of them, these potential ‘big investors’ were inundated with calls, messages and visits to induce them to part with huge sums. Once again their hunger for quick money was our biggest weapon, we kept on hammering them with kind of money they could earn by investing a lakh of rupees or tens of lakhs by mortgaging or selling whatever they had. We even offered to help them with selling/mortgaging of their houses, vehicles, gold and other valuables. Some of us even visited banks and financial institutions with them to help them in paperwork. We all knew that not all will be entrapped but we were counting on the few unfortunate ones who will and even a few would suffice.
By the end of the 5th day, the deadline we had given to the investors to bring us as much cash as possible to buy raw material for the big order, 7 of my clients had made an investment of Rs. 27 lakh with the firm. The biggest target had sold his house to invest Rs. 11 lakh. Others too had sold one thing or the other. In all, the firm had collected more than Rs. 2 crores through the 10 agents. The agent who had collected the most was one Qasim, a friend of Riyaz, who had got Rs. 47 lakh. We were all impressed by his convincing skills and congratulated him. I was given Rs. 3 lakh by the partners for my effort, in all I had received Rs. 4.5 lakh for my efforts from the firm, which was beyond my wildest expectations. We were all advised to leave Delhi for a few days and come back after the initial hue and cry was over. We all went to different places and were advised to never meet each other again.
I stayed in a Dharamshala at Haridwar for next 20 days. I kept my bag of money in my sight at all times and was happy that I could now contribute to my sister’s education as I can claim that I earned it all as a salesman. I kept on reading newspapers to find out about victims of our scam but other than a brief mention in a local Delhi newspaper, I found nothing. What else could you expect in a country of 1.30 billion where Rs. 2 crore scam is like a drop in the ocean compared to Lakh crore scams our politicians and administrators commit? I felt elated at how little heat our successful venture had generated.
When I reached home after 20 days, something unexpected happened. My father talked to me after many years. He told me that my sister had left studies and she was working as maid just like my mother. I got infuriated and told him I had money to help her in studies and expected him to ask the source of my earnings or he did not want my sin money. But he happily took Rs. 4.5 lakh from me and told me that the world actually exists for scamsters and cheats. He no longer had faith in God or honesty and believed my ways and views are right. I was stunned. I asked my sister about this change of heart and she told me crying that we had been cheated by a scamsters called Bablu who had asked us to make soaps for double the profits and showed us an order of Rs. 80 crores which led to us mortgaging our house and father’s auto. It was all done to finance her studies but ended up in us losing nearly Rs. 17 lakh.
Have you ever felt earth-shattering all around you and you falling inside the crater caused? That’s precisely what I felt. Bablu was actually Qasim, who had collected maximum funds for the firm and now I knew that a big chunk of that came from my family. Rs. 4.5 lakh I earned from the scheme looked a pittance compared to a loss of Rs. 17 lakh and my sister losing her dream of studying forever. All of them were working hard to just repay monthly installments of loans they had taken. I wanted to scream but cannot. I cannot even reveal anything to police about Bablu/Qasim or the partners as guilt was suffocating me.
The biggest fall one feels is falling from one’s own eyes. I never thought about the victims whom I had cheated. I never had an afterthought of what happened to them after they had been defrauded and made fools. But seeing the condition of my family, I felt, I was the biggest sinner on earth. What an irony, when my parents called me a sinner I never cared and now when they have accepted my views as right, I have realized that I was wrong all the time. My fall from the 12th floor of a nearby building is as painless as fall of leaves of trees in the autumn which is as bereft of life as I am….