Online Scammers Rob Pune Man of Rs 1 Crore in the Guise of Opening Pizza Franchise

A new Cybercrime reportedly left a Pune-based man Rs 1 crore lighter. According to an Indian Express report, the 35-years old Pune-based victim was looking for avenues to invest in the food and hospitality industry. He came across several websites online offering pizza joint chains, of which he filled out one form last month. In the events that followed, he was asked to deposit a total of Rs 1 crore in various fees for registration, NOC, machinery, and interior for the outlets. When the victim realised some of these transactions were made to personal accounts instead of a registered entity, he got suspicious and filed an FIR with the local police. Let’s take a look at how the entire conspiracy transpired.

Pune Man Loses Rs 1 Crore in Pizza Franchise Scam

Pune man robbed off Rs 1 crore after applying for pizza franchise.
Pune man robbed off Rs 1 crore after applying for pizza franchise.

As mentioned, the 35 years old Pune-based director of an engineering components manufacturing company was looking at pizza franchises ahead of the Men’s Cricket World Cup. He filled out an online form for opening one such pizza outlet in the first week of June. He was contacted by a person claiming to be the executive of the pizza chain. After the initial discussion, he received a letter of intent from the pizza chain, which listed the terms and conditions of the contract.

The victim was then asked to transfer Rs 2.65 lakh and Rs 6 lakh for the initial processing fee and no-objection certificate (NOC), respectively. The scammer was then asked to transfer Rs 7 lakh for the initial machinery purchase for the outlet, which was said to be at the Pune International Airport. The victim made these payments in four installments.

In the following days, the victim was contacted by several different persons pretending to be the pizza chain executives. They asked him to transfer an additional Rs 2.6 lakh and two payments of Rs 12 lakh each for interior decor and completion of the contract. All of these payments were for the Pune airport outlet.

He was then contacted by fraudsters posing as senior executives, offering two more outlets in Mumbai and Pune ahead of the cricket World Cup. He was told the franchise fee for these two outlets would be Rs 82 lakh and asked to pay Rs 15 lakh and Rs 33 lakh. The payments were to the tune of over Rs 1 crore and made to different bank accounts.

Blissfully unaware of the sinister intent of scammers and lured by the prospect of owning three outlets, the victim made the payments. However, while making the last payment of Rs 33 lakh, he realised that some of these payments were being made to individual accounts instead of a registered pizza business. That’s when the man got suspicious and filed an FIR at Bhosari MIDC police station under the Pimpri-Chinchwad police on July 7.

According to the police report, the victim made more than a dozen payments to scammers between June 9 and July 7. As of writing this, according to Indian Express, an investigation has been launched into the case. The cyber police are probing into the criminals’ phone numbers, bank accounts, and email addresses. As of now, there’s no word on whether the miscreants have been nabbed or not.

Without going into the details of the pizza chain, the police officials investigating the matter have revealed that multiple cases have been reported against the same company recently. It’s advised to do your diligence before making huge investments and preferably direct with the companies instead of online dealings.

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