Continuing to crack the whip against agents of controversial multi-level marketing (MLM) companies, the Cyberabad City Police has arrested 58 independent representatives (IRs) of QNet for their involvement in 14 cases of fraud and cheating worth Rs1,000 crore. Those arrested by the police include three bank employees.
According to VC Sajjanar, commissioner of police at Cyberabad, primary investigation reveals that those arrested by the police have cheated unemployed youth under the pretext of giving them a job and collected around Rs1,000 crore in the MLM scam.
"Total 58 persons were arrested in 14 cases, which were registered against QNet and Vihaan Direct Selling Pvt Ltd in different police stations of Cyberabad are arrested. The godown of Vihaan Direct Selling at Bangalore and the office of Transview Enterprises (a marketing agency for QNet products) are seized. An amount of Rs2.7 crore in the bank account of Vihaan Direct Selling is frozen. The bank accounts of accused persons involved in the cases are also seized," Mr Sajjanar says.
According to the commissioner, this is a case of cheating by the Vihaan Direct Selling Pvt Ltd, a sub-franchisee of QI Group in India marketing under brand name of QNet. He says, "This case is cracked down by the sleuths of Cyberabad in various parts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bengaluru and Delhi, in which 58 persons were arrested in 14 cases, which were registered against Vihaan Direct Selling in different Police Stations of Cyberabad. There are total 30 cases registered on QNet Cyberabad. There are eight cases, which are under investigation with crime investigation department of Telangana Police."
Talking about the modus operandi of QNet and Vihaan, Mr Sajjanar says, at first the QNet and Vihaan promoters say to the new comers that there are various business projects such as cost optimization business, health and wellness products, watches and jewellery, personal care and beauty, tour packages, education packages (SMC MBA Certification). "The promoters trap the new comers with sweet words stating that they will be a part of the QNet Kingdom where they can build their own future. They say that if the new comers who paid money do not like QNet business packages, they can claim their refund within a month. But in fact, the promoters will drag the one month period by giving motivational classes, training sessions and also providing books such as 'The Parable of the pipeline', 'Questions are the answers', 'The Business School', 'Who Stole the American dream', 'The Copycat Marketing 101' and 'Talk the talk', to the newcomers and tell them to read all the books to gain knowledge over the business. Once the new comer joins into the QNet or Vihaan business through a referrer or promoter he becomes IR. After paying the money, the new comer gets some products and the promoter gets commission. The promoter then says to the IR that to get money he/she has to enrol two other members and they in turn join two each other new comers. As the number of persons increases down the line, the upline get more money as commissions."
"The QNet and Vihaan business model is a simple pyramid scheme in which the early entrants earn money and as the number of IR increases, finding more IRs (new comers) to join becomes difficult or impossible. IRs that joins late does not earn enough to cover their first outlay and the model collapses. It works as a binary scheme. Down the line, the number of persons to be joined becomes difficult or impossible. The scheme collapses at a point of time," the Cyberabad police commissioner added.
Out of the total 58 persons arrested, 51 are from Hyderabad, five from Bengaluru and one each from Delhi and Eluru.
Earlier in September 2016, the Hyderabad police had arrested four IRs, Sreenath Konda, Prasanna Kumar Reddy, Kanchana Vobbilichetty and Beemarthi Dhan Raj, for cheating about 200 people under the pretext of giving a job and collecting around Rs2 crore to Rs3 crore.
Hyderabad police has been warning public not to indulge or make any investment in QNet and Vihaan Direct Selling in any form. "As per law every member who promotes such business and enlist other members also will be prosecuted treating as promoters of multi-level marketing, chain system business," it says.
Later in mid-September, the MCI from Saudi Arabia raided meeting places of QNet in that country. “QNet marketing activity aims to mislead and deceive dealers and clients with quick profit. Therefore, they try to raise money illegally by claiming that they are investing such money. This kind of activity is considered illegal because it depends on deceiving, cheating, fraud and manipulation,” the Ministry had said in a release. (Read: QNet: Saudi Arabia Raids Meeting Places of the Banned MLM
Under a resolution, MCI has banned QNet marketing activity in Saudi Arabia. This includes prevention of QNet or Pyramid marketing, and also the prevention of making advertisement or promotion for such activity by any means. This is in addition to the Ministerial Decree issued by the Ministry of Interior, which stipulates that the financial fraud issues are considered crimes punishable by arrest.
There are several court cases and probe going on against QNet, its franchisee Vihaan and many people associated with the MLM scheme. In fact, three year ago, the Bombay High Court, in its judgement has observed "the deceit and fraud is camouflaged under the name of e-marketing and business."
While rejecting anticipatory bail applications of five accused in the multi-crore QNet scam, Justice Mridula Bhatkar, in a hard-hitting order on 6 May 2016, had said, "The motto of the company 'sell more, earn more' appears very attractive and innocuous. However, this motto is fully camouflaged. The company stands on a basic statement that people can be fooled. Thus, the true motto is 'sell more earn more' by fooling people. In fact, it is a chain where a person is fooled and then he is trained to fool others to earn money. For that purpose, workshops are conducted where study and business material is provided with a jugglery of words, promises and dreams. Thus, the deceit and fraud is camouflaged under the name of e-marketing and business."
"The claim that the wellness products, i.e., Biodisk and Chi Pendent are medicinal and spiritual products, are after all, a matter of faith. However, the applicants/ accused have launched these wellness products with ulterior motive and with correct judgment of vulnerability of the people. The holiday packages, which were sold or offered, without any choice left to the buyers. The entire business was Internet based and, therefore, the persons who are responsible, i.e., the top brass, i.e., the applicants/ accused, were not approachable to the persons who were aggrieved. The nature of the business was knitted in the interest of the directors and shareholders in such a manner that the persons who are at the lower level of the pyramid cannot get any access to put up their grievances. The manner in which the persons were contacted, incentives offered, the workshops were conducted, are best examples of inducement," Justice Bhatkar had remarked. (Read: QNet: “It is a chain where a person is fooled and then he is trained to fool others to earn money” says Bombay HC order
Gurupreet Singh Anand, a computer consultant from Lokhandawala, Andheri in his first information report (FIR) stated that his wife was duped for Rs30,000 by some people who had introduced themselves as the independent representatives (IRs) of QNet.
While arguing before the HC in person, he had contended that the illegal money circulation scheme is being conducted in India by changing names from GoldQuest to QuestNet to the current QNet.