Conmen have a knack of fooling unsuspecting people who are looking to make good investments. But it is a matter of a few bad decisions and lakhs of hard-earned money can vanish into the pockets of conmen. A businessman from Gujarat became a victim of a con, where he has duped of Rs 10.4 lakh in the promise of getting a Xiaomi franchise.
Xiaomi has established a reputation in India after its sweeping success in the country's competitive smartphone market. In fact, the company's market share outgrew Samsung in 2019, which means Xiaomi, as a brand, is highly popular among consumers. If someone proposes a lucrative business deal with a reputed brand like Xiaomi, it is hard to turn down.
Xiaomi franchise fraud
A 28-year-old man from Bhavnagar, Gujarat, realized that he had been duped of Rs 10.4 lakh too late. The businessman, identified as Bhavesh Madhabhai Baraiya, had received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number with an offer to own a Mi Store franchise. In the message, there was a link, which redirected Barajya to a list of conditions required to open a Mi Store, Bangalore Mirror reported.
The offer piqued Baraiya's interest so he replied to the WhatsApp message, which is where the trouble started. He received a call asking him to fill out an application and send it to an email address with all the details related to the store. In a matter of less than two weeks, Baraiya gets another call saying his application had been approved and documents verified.
The conmen patiently carried out the fraud and after gaining Baraiya's trust, investment talks began. First, a payment of Rs 30,400 was asked towards the registration fees, which Baraiya paid using Google Pay to an account called Xiaomi Tech India Pvt. Ltd. Over the course of the next few days, multiple payments were made by Baraiya.
Payments demanded from the victim were in the name of security deposit for Rs 74,000, Rs 5 lakh worth products, Rs 3 lakh towards store interiors and Rs 63,440 for transport charges. The conmen went a step further to make the fraud look legit by sending Baraiya a bond with the authorised signatory of Manu Kumar Jain, Xiaomi's global VP and MD.
Once the deal was made to appear to be going smoothly and had hit the last leg, the conmen came up with another excuse to dupe the unsuspecting businessman. On December 21, Baraiya got a call informing him that his consignment was confiscated by the GST officials as he did not have a GST number and was asked to pay Rs 75,000.
Days passed and there was no response, so Baraiya grew curious and called up the person he was in touch with. On January 3, the conmen again tried to dupe Baraiya asking him to pay a penalty of Rs 97,000 as his previous transport payment record was not to be found. He was warned that failing to do payment would be the end of the entire deal.
This time, Baraiya grew suspicious and decided to visit the Xiaomi head-office in Bengaluru. To his shock, he was told that no one from Xiaomi was in touch with him and that no such deal was made. He was also informed about several other similar cases where others have been conned in a similar manner.
Baraiya filed a police complaint at the Marathalli police station on February 11, but it will be transferred to Bhavanagar police station as the crime took place in its jurisdiction.
It's easier to fall for the Mi Store fraud as a quick web search of Google for Mi Store dealership brings up at least two fake websites, which look like legit Xiaomi sites but are actually fake. If you wish to get the accurate information about Mi Store franchise, head over to the official Mi Community post detailing the process.