The police claim that the former billiards champion also illegally diverted money abroad.
Michael Ferreira, the former billiards champion, cheated about 10,000 people of a total of Rs1,000 crore and laundered money, concluded the charge sheet filed by the police investigating a scam involving several online companies that he founded in 2008. These firms include QNet and Vihang, which sold dubious healing products, spurious investment schemes and travel packages through their websites.
Ferreira started these companies with the express intention of duping people, the charge sheet filed on Tuesday by the Mumbai police’s economic offences wing said, rejecting his claims of innocence. Ferreira also illegally diverted money to other countries, such as Poland, often using investors’ credit card numbers, the charge sheet said.
Ferreira roped in a man called Suresh Thimri as a co-founder in his companies, even though the police had in 2000 booked another company he had founded for selling illegal investment schemes, said the charge sheet. The charge sheet includes Ferreira’s bank and other documents, including those showing that customers’ money was going to bank accounts that Thimri was operating.
“Ferreira and Thimri merely relaunched the old company under new names,” the charge sheet said. One of the companies sold chi pendants and something called a “biodisc”, which it claimed could cure any ailment, including cancer, diabetes and mental illnesses. The company had claimed that a lab in Pune had vetted this biodisc, but the investigations found that the lab, as mentioned on the website, did not exist. Moreover, the police had the disc examined by scientists at the BARC, who concluded that it was a piece of glass that had no effect on the body.
The companies sold the products at unreasonable prices, but the email ids on the websites were fake so customers could not write in to complain, the charge sheet said. To deter people from complaining, the companies also asked the clients to enrol their family members in the company’s schemes and to sign undertakings claiming responsibility for their decisions.
Another accused, Susan Chaterjee, has no source of income but was able to buy two flats in Goa and a sports utility vehicle, among other things, the charge sheet said. Similarly, another accused, Sameer Naik, purchased a BMW car, and a flat each in Pune and Thane, the police found.