Noticing that chit fund groups are once again trying to surface in smaller modules in the state after four years of the Saradha Group fiasco, the state Consumer Affairs department has decided to create awareness among people on the hazards of investing in chit fund scheme by organising a seminar to be attended by representatives from Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and Economic Offences Wing (EOW).
Sadhan Pande, the state Consumer Affairs minister, said: “The seminar will be organised during the three-day long Consumer Affairs Fair to be held in Netaji Indoor Stadium from September 15.” He said: “The step has been taken to make people aware before they step into the trap of chit fund groups. I came to North Bengal and held meetings with all officials of the department here to take a stock of the situation. Besides organising seminar on hazards of investing in chit fund groups, there will also be programmes to make people aware to avoid harassment after booking a residential apartment during the fair.”
It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also “earnestly urged” people not to show slightest of interest in investing in chit fund schemes. She had said that it is not in the hand of the state government to refund money if a person gets cheated. Their complaint would be sent to the EOW to probe into the incident.
The Consumer Fair will be inaugurated on September 15 and the seminar to make people aware about the hazards of investing in chit fund companies will be held either on September 16 or 17. The exact date of the seminar will be finalised by the next week. It is learnt that RBI has also been proposed to set up a stall in the fair in which their representatives would tell people that what they should known about a group before investing in any of their schemes.
Sources said that the Consumer Affairs department received around 30 complaints in one month till August end. Till July there were around 70 complaints related to functioning of chit fund groups from different parts of the state, mainly North Bengal and districts including East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas in South Bengal.
According to the sources, the chit fund groups are trying to function in a low-key manner at present instead of going for much advertisements or publicity, keeping the Saradha Group scam in mind.
The recent complaints revealed that same persons are behind three to four chit fund companies. It shows that instead of expanding business, the same group is collecting money in different areas. It will help them wind up their business easily as the same person will not become the face of all the companies under the same chit fund group.
Moreover, the names they are giving to the chit fund companies are quite similar to the names of banking institutions. Recently, the Consumer Affairs department has received a complaint alleging that one DICIC Bank of India has opened its office at Bajkul in East Midnapore on June 2. Immediate steps were taken and the matter was taken up to the State Level Co-ordination Committee which comprises representatives from RBI, Sebi, Intelligence Branch, Registrar of Companies (ROC), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and EOW. Subsequently, immediate steps were taken against the group.
Moreover, the Consumer Affairs department has decided to introduce mobile phone app using which people can lodge any sort of complaint to the Consumer Affairs department. With introduction of the app, people will no more need to visit any offices of the department to lodge their complaints.