A real estate developer who promised to establish a Brahmin-only township on the outskirts of Hyderabad was arrested for duping customers by selling them fictitious plots and resorting to double registrations.
Yellapragada Prabhakar Sharma, a native of Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, had purchased 36 acres in Chegur village in Kothur mandal of Mahbubnagar in Telangana in 2011 and floated a venture, Raghavendra Real Estate, to create a `Vedagayatri Agraharam’-an exclusive estate where only Brahmins will reside.
Sharma promised to establish a community and wedding hall, a cow shed, vedic school, Brahmin IAS Academy, homeopathic and ayurvedic clinics and an old age home.
Cashing on sentiments
Officials say Sharma exploited the sentiments of the highly caste-conscious Brahmin community, especially those from Andhra settled in Hyderabad who fell for the trap.
“It seems people were duped by his talk that it was his mission to unite Brahmins and create conditions for high standards of living for them in the purest form. He used to hire cars and SUVs by the dozens to take prospective customers from his office in Nagole area to see the plots at the project he named ‘Veda Gayatri Agraharam’,” an official said.
Sharma advertised his scheme on local TV channels and apparently got a tremendous response from the community primarily from bank employees, teachers, and retired government servants.
“He floated an easy-to-purchase scheme for 200 sq yards plots, each costing between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 6.50 lakh in which 20 per cent had to be paid as down payment and the remaining amount in 100 EMIs.
He ensured that all the EMIs were paid through electronic clearing service (ECS) from the client’s bank account in the first week of every month and as soon as it was credited to Prabhakar Sarma’s account, he would withdraw the money the next minute.
“He was getting Rs 10 to Rs 12 lakh every month through EMIs. But instead of selling one plot to one owner, Sarma started cheating his clients by selling the same plot to several people and amassing crores. Originally, the 36 acres had only 441 plots, each of 200 sq yards but Sarma sold these 441 plots to 936 persons and amassed Rs 25.19 crores,” Mahbubnagar SP P Vishwa Prasad said.
It was only when some customers started asking why no work to create facilities in the estate had started that the fraud came to light. Sharma was arrested after he confessed to fraud and cheating.
According to Mahbubnagar Police, Sharma duped all his customers and invested the money to purchase flats for himself in the posh Gachi Bowli area of Hyderabad, and Visakhapatnam, and purchased 11 motorcycles, 8 trucks, and 11 buses to start a transport business.
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