Source: Google Photos

In Short

  • The person who got tricked ended up giving a significant amount of money, approximately 1 crore, to fraudsters who convinced them that they were assisting in establishing franchise locations for a pizza restaurant.
  • These fraudsters instructed the victim to transfer the funds into individual bank accounts instead of official business accounts.
  • There have been other incidents recently where people have fallen victim to the same scam involving this particular pizza franchise.

In a recent incident of cyber fraud, a man from Pune fell victim to online scammers who lured him with the promise of owning a franchise of a well-known pizza restaurant chain during the upcoming men’s cricket World Cup. The 35-year-old victim, who is the director of an engineering components manufacturing company, had an interest in the food and hospitality industry. He came across some websites offering franchises of a popular pizza chain and filled out an online form in early June.

Shortly after submitting the application, the victim received a call on June 9 from someone claiming to be an executive from the franchise company. Believing it to be a legitimate opportunity, the victim proceeded with the franchise process. On June 21, he received a letter of intent, which outlined the terms and conditions of the contract.

To complete the franchise acquisition, the victim was instructed to make various payments. Initially, he transferred Rs 2.65 lakh as an initial processing fee. Subsequently, they asked him to pay around Rs 6 lakh for a no-objection certificate (NOC) and Rs 7.5 lakh as the initial payment for purchasing machinery for the outlet. He made these payments in four installments, and they assured him that he would receive his franchise outlet at the Pune Airport.

In the following days, the victim received additional calls from individuals posing as other executives of the franchisor. They requested further transfers of Rs 2.6 lakh and two payments of approximately Rs 12 lakh each to complete the contract formalities. Moreover, they requested Rs 20 lakh for decorating the franchise outlet in Pune Airport.

Later on, the victim received calls from individuals claiming to be senior executives who proposed opening franchises in Pune and Mumbai during the upcoming cricket World Cup.The franchise fees totaled Rs 82 lakh. The scammer requested the victim to pay Rs 15 lakh and Rs 33 lakh for these franchises. Trusting the offer, the victim proceeded with the payments, resulting in a total sum of over Rs 1 crore in less than a month.

However, while making these payments, the victim realized that he had been transferring funds to personal accounts instead of registered company accounts. After conducting further investigation, he discovered that someone had deceived him and he subsequently lodged a complaint with the Pimpri-Chinchwad police. The Pimpri-Chinchwad police registered an FIR at the Bhosari MIDC police station, falling under their jurisdiction.

Authorities have disclosed that between June 9 and July 7, the victim made numerous transactions to multiple bank accounts based on various false pretexts related to opening franchise outlets of Pizza chain in Mumbai, Pune, and Pune Airport serves delicious pizzas at multiple locations.

Reports from various parts of the country indicate that the same pizza restaurant chain is participating in similar cyber frauds, indicating that this case is not an isolated incident. To protect yourself from falling for such scams, it is advisable to exercise caution when you come across online offers and to carefully investigate and confirm any investment opportunities before taking any further steps.

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