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Nov 24, 2012 at 08:01am IST

Mumbai: Over 15,000 investors cheated in the name of god

New Delhi: Another Stock Guru-like scam has been unearthed which exploited the devout. Around 15,000 investors from the Christian community were duped in an investment scheme that promised a tour to Israel for six days, investment for a divine tower, schools and hospitals for the poor.

The scheme was a perfect narrative to lure investors in the name of religion. Many from the Christian community like Clement D'Souza fell for the VCare scheme, putting their entire retirement money, only to receive nothing in return. "I invested more than Rs 18 lakh of my retirement money into this scheme," he told CNN-IBN.

While the company has been sealed by the Thane Police's Economic Offences Wing, the investors have already lost their money. Officials say the scam is to the tune of over Rs 34 crore. The promoter, Sunil Saldanha, has been chargesheeted and the case is up for hearing in courts.

Saldanha concocted two schemes to target members of the Christian community, and named them as Divine Blessings and Super Natural Blessing schemes. Saldanha opened a prayer hall at a registered office in Thane and spoke about the schemes after the prayer sessions. He also told investors that the money will be used to open schools and hospitals for the poor.

With over 300 such companies operating in the country, investigating agencies say there is a need for a regulator for direct selling companies. Additional CP, Mumbai EOW Rajvardhan said, "Definitely there is a need for a regulator to keep a check on such companies."

Financial experts say that in the days to come companies like it will mushroom and economic illiteracy is likely to result in many more such scams. If you are investing, make sure you consult a financial auditing firm and check the status of the company that you are investing in.

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