With the arrest of four men, Noida Police on Saturday said they have busted a "franchise racket" run by them to dupe around Rs 30 crore from over three dozen people from multiple states.

The police also recovered properties worth around Rs 10 crore, including 3.300 kg gold, Rs 13,54,550 cash and a Mercedes car, from the accused persons, a senior officer said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Central Noida, Harish Chander said the accused had floated a company named "Hypermart", registered in Sector 63 of Noida, and targeted people with an offer of giving them a franchise store of the firm in their city. "They had taken money ranging from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 50 lakh from each person and eventually went untraceable. Thirty-eight such victims approached us alleging the accused men have duped them. The racket involves Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore," Chander told reporters.

He added that during a probe it emerged that it was not only one company but there were also four-five more such firms floated by these men for the same purpose. Additional DCP Ankur Aggarwal, who led the team that arrested the accused, said eight FIRs were registered only in the last four-five days while so far at least 32 such complainants had approached Noida Police.

"We got complaints from Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and got to know that the racketeers had targeted people across the country. They had promised franchise to people and pitched business models that would get them money. But once they got money from the people, they shut their offices and ran away," Aggarwal told reporters.

Those held have been identified as Ankur alias Sonu Verma, Sunil Mistry, Ravindra Kumar, all three residents of Ghaziabad, and Sunil Kumar, who lives in Meerut, police said. The man who planned this scheme has been identified as Ghaziabad resident Rajesh Kumar, who is absconding. He also went by multiple fake names, including Rajesh Advani, Arvind Gandhi, Sunil, RK Advani, Rohit Verma, Rahul Gupta, Rahul Kumar, Robert Blue, they said.

Illegally accumulated cash worth Rs 13,54,550, 3.300 kg gold biscuits, 242 g silver coins, a Honda City, a Mercedes E class, a Hyundai Creta, a Maruti Swift Dzire were seized from the accused, the police said. They also recovered 63 laptops, 27 mobile phones, 26 thermal printers, 37 bar code scanners, 117 ATM cards and 96 cheque books of various banks, 69 PAN cards, 19 voter ID cards, 17 driving license, 23 rubber stamps from them.

The police also got a bank account belonging to one of the accused frozen, which had Rs 56 lakh, they said, adding that further investigation is underway. An FIR has been registered at the Phase III police station and the accused have been booked for fraud and forgery, among other charges, the police added.
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