“Good News for all stockguru India victims,” flashes the homepage of stockguruvictims.com, “Lokeshwar Dev Jain and his wife Saraswat Jain is arrested in Ratnagiri Maharastra , Banged up(sic) and now will be put behind bars.” For the members of the site, Diwali came a day early with the arrest of the duo, but it took more than 18 months of organized unrelenting efforts, a lot of them online.
Unlike thousands of investors duped everyday by numerous ponzi schemes across the country, the victims of the stock guru scam perpetrated by Jains, whose real names later turned out to be Mr and Mrs Ulhas Khaire, did not sit at home and curse their luck.
The duped investors used online tools such as a dedicated website, a facebook page and group smses to organize themselves, keep up the pressure on the authorities and eventually managed to celebrate the arrest of the alleged fraudsters. The administrators of the website functioned as a central unit gathering data from thousands of victims, doing forensic accounting, consulting auditors and legal advisors and working in tandem with investigators setting up an example for victims of such spurious investment schemes.
The home page of stockguruvictims.com has the pictures of the couple smiling gloriously in their colourful, expensive formal outfits. The pictures seem to be from one of those star hotel money raising events. In between the two photographs sits a look-out notice from Delhi Police. “About more than 4000 complaints have been received till date regarding cheating against Lokeshwar Dev and Priyanka Saraswat dev,” it says asking people with clues to contact West Delhi District police’s Investigation Unit.
The website goes on to give details of how the couple had duped people with the promise of 20 per cent interest per month. “These victims have lost even their principal amount. Some innocent people had borrowed money against property, gold, cars etc and credit cards to invest in STOCKGURU INDIA; they are now left with nothing and they still have to repay their loans.”
They saw getting together and helping each other as the only way to get theor money back. “Approximately Rs. 70 Crores in Cash and property belonging to Lokeshwar Dev Jain and his wife have been seized and frozen by Government Authorities. JOIN US RIGHT NOW so we can be the Biggest group to file claim on this Rs. 70 Crore. This is the only way to recover all or part of our money.”
There were regular updates of notices, the latest one being one on September 6 issued by the Additional metropolitan magistrate of Tiz hazari court asking the couple to surrender before November 1.
That was not all. The members put up videos on youtube, explaining the modus operandi of the couple and even putting up photos of the couple in different disguises. Numerous videos with several individual investor accounts were uploaded on the internet. The victims even managed to savour some humour out of their hopeless situation. One of the videos flashes the pictures of Khaire with the hit number from “Three Idiots” “Behti hawa sa tha who, Udti patang sa tha woh, Kahan gaya usse dhoondo” playing in the background. The victims also ran a facebook page by name stock guru india victims, which had some 56 likes. Several online complaints were filed in different consumer complaints forum.
Attempts were made by the fraudsters to derail these online efforts. “We cannot allow un-registered visitors to view our site due to attempts by Lokeshwar Dev’s associates to disrupt our proceedings. as some of our visitors must be aware, Lokeshwar Dev’s associates tried to hack our previous site,” the web site said.
The group even charged a registration fee of Rs 375 per head for website maintenance and other administration charges. Besides, updating all registered members via SMS, the site said the charges would cover printing of all documents uploaded by you and creating individual file for your claims and hiring “forensic accountants and para-legals” to investigate and ascertain assets of Lokeshwar Dev and his family and/or associates. It also talked about hiring private investigators to track down the money hidden by Lokeshwar Dev and “Preliminary consultation and advice from Senior Advocates.”
The site administrators functioned as a central control running a helpline for victims during weekdays. “The Administrators and Operators of this website are also victims of this Scam. We are based in Delhi and are located close to all department Headquarters and courts. We have made a promise to ourselves that We will not rest, We will not sleep and We will not stop till we have recovered our hard earned money. We will not let Lokeshwar Dev Jain and his wife get away with this scam. We will hunt him till hell.” They did not have to go that far. The authorities arrested the duo in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra earlier this week.