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Rs 500cr rides on Gurus of ‘fraud’

- 2 lakh people on list of couple’s victims

New Delhi, Nov. 12: An early-30s couple who allegedly made nearly Rs 500 crore by swindling more than 2 lakh people within a year were arrested yesterday after a 17-month hunt across India, Delhi police said.

Ulhas Prabhakar Khaire, 33, and wife Raksha J. Urs, 30, were nabbed in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, by a team from Delhi police’s economic offences wing. The police claimed to have received complaints from 14,303 cheated investors who put money in the schemes of Stock Guru India, a company allegedly floated by the couple in 2010.

Their three children, the eldest of whom is seven, are with the police and would be handed over to relatives.

Officers said Ulhas and Raksha had built up huge assets through fraud across the country’s east, west, north and south, changing their looks, identities and cities at will. Ulhas is a Class XI pass and Raksha a photojournalism graduate — a training that may have come in handy while doctoring their pictures on documents, the police suggested.

The couple allegedly made their biggest killing while operating from a west Delhi office, where they set up Stock Guru India under false names.

Small-time investors put in sums from Rs 10,000 upwards but their sheer number — 205,062, according to the police — raised a kitty of Rs 493 crore.

“The duo advertised in newspapers asking people to invest,” said Sandeep Goel, joint commissioner of police. “They also had multiple agents across the country.”

Conferences in five-star hotels and attractive brochures persuaded many investors, mostly from Delhi, Uttarakhand and Himachal, a police source said.

“They promised 20 per cent monthly returns for six months and refund of the principal in the seventh,” the source said.

Early in 2011, the couple shut down the company and vanished with their money, Goel added. Two Haryana-based investors started off the case in June 2011, and soon thousands of complaints were pouring in.

“They were also involved in cheating, forgery and fraud in Uttarakhand, Himachal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim and Maharashtra,” Goel said. Here’s how the police outlined the couple’s career:

The first cheating case against Khaire was registered in 2004 in Nagpur but he escaped to Pune and worked at a call centre for a few months. He then moved to Bangalore and started working in a finance company, where he met Raksha.

After marriage, the couple kept switching cities — applying for high-end credit cards under fake identities everywhere and buying expensive items before leaving quietly.

After Stock Guru, though, they seemed to have given up the life of crime and lived quietly in Mumbai. They were apparently planning to settle abroad when they were arrested during a visit to Ratnagiri.

Charged with cheating, forgery, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust, the couple were produced in court and remanded in police custody.

The police claimed to have seized or frozen about Rs 63 crore worth of the couple’s properties: Rs 80 lakh in fixed deposits, Rs 5.87 crore in share investments, Rs 26.86 crore in demand drafts, Rs 5.87 crore in movable and immovable properties, and Rs 23 crore in savings accounts.

“We have frozen all their accounts. They are being questioned about the rest of the money,” Goel said.

According to the police, the couple’s assets include:

Ninety-four accounts in 20 banks under 13 names.

Eight flats in Dwarka (Delhi), one each in Bhiwadi, Alwar and Moradabad, and a villa in Goa.

Twelve vehicles, including a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Mercedes and a Hyundai i20.

Laptops, notebooks, premium watches, iPhones, touch phones and iPads.