Mohit Goel, the Noida-based entrepreneur who shot to international fame for offering the world's cheapest smartphone at Rs 251, has now been arrested for allegedly duping dry fruits traders across the country to the tune of Rs 200 crores.

Goel's name has been popping up in several cases of fraud and extortion since his company Ringing Bells failed to deliver smartphones to customers who pre-booked 'Freedom 251' in 2017. This time, Goel and five others are accused of cheating scores of dry fruit traders in several states through their company, Dubai Dry fruits and Spices Hub.

On Sunday evening, he was arrested near Meghdootam Park in Sector 51 area of the industrial city. 

Mohit Goel
Mohit Goel (right) is accused in a Rs 200-crore fraud.

Modus Operandi: Win trust, then default on payments 

Police said that Goel and his associates would buy dry fruits and spices from wholesalers by offering a slightly higher price but then they would not pay them in full. Elaborating their Locus Operandi, Noida Police said that the gang then used to sell those goods in the open market at much higher prices in Delhi-NCR but would not make full payment to those from whom they purchased the stocks.

According to the police, they would place orders for dry fruits from across the country and pay 40 per cent using net banking and issue bank cheques for the rest of the amount, which ultimately would bounce. 

The company cheated around 500 traders across the country using this method, Hindustan Times a police officer as saying.

"They were running a company from Gurugram in 2017 which they later shut and moved to a new location. They started one in Noida in 2019 in Sector 63, before starting Dubai dry fruits. Their modus operandi was to close the company they were running after duping a good number of people and then starting another firm," a police officer said.

Dry fruits

Pan-India cheating 

At least 40 written complaints of fraud against the company were filed by traders in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and some other states of the country, Noida Police said. 

In December last year, an FIR was first lodged against the company when a trader city-based trader filed a complaint.

Dubai Dry fruits and Spices Hub was being operated out of a premier office complex in Sector 62 for which the company was paying Rs 3 lakhs per month, police said adding that the company had employed three foreigners who were handling the front office. 

Goel's long history of fraud, cheating and extortion

In 2017, Goel was arrested by the Ghaziabad police over an alleged payment dispute linked to the distributorship of his flagship scam - Freedom 251 smartphones based on a complaint filed by a businessman. In his FIR, the complainant had said that he was one of the distributors of the company which failed to return Rs 16 lakhs to him after failing to deliver the smartphones and accessories as promised. 

Freedom 251-maker launches cheapest LED TV at Rs. 9,990
Mohit Goel with BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi.Reuters

In 2018, he was arrested on charges of trying to extort money from a businessman to "settle a gang-rape case" registered against five people by a woman in Alwar district of Rajasthan.

According to a report by news agency ANI, in her FIR, the woman had alleged that she was invited to attend an event at a hotel where she was gang-raped. 

The woman along with others was nabbed when they reached the office of the businessman to receive the settlement amount of Rs 5 crores, the news reported said.