‘Unwell’ investment costs man his entire life’s savings

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A 38-year-old para-medical staffer is ruing the day he approached a couple that had set up a health camp near a park after his morning walk. The interaction which turned into a business association has cost him all of his savings, and the savings of his parents and relatives amounting to Rs 35 lakh.

The money was poured into the idea of a wellness startup where he was promised profit returns of up to Rs 2.5 lakh for every Rs 10 lakh that he invested. The Banashankari police have booked a case of cheating and criminal breach of trust against a couple identified by the cops as Sanjeeva Kumara RS and his wife Karamama Sahana, proprietors of Namma Wellness, a healthcare start-up situated near Devegowda Petrol Bunk on Outer Ring Road.

Victim Pradeep (name changed on request) told Bangalore Mirror that the couple used to target people who are health conscious and would want to invest into the health and wellness industry. “You can find this couple setting up health camps near parks early in the morning – under an umbrella, with a table and chair set-up checking blood pressure and random blood sugar levels for morning walkers – all for free,” Pradeep told Bangalore Mirror.

This is how they get the contact numbers of people, he said. The couple then interact with the people who get tested and recommend more tests to be performed at discounted prices, if they get tested at their healthcare facility in Banashankari, said Pradeep.

Pradeep was one among such victims who came in contact with the couple in September last year. As Pradeep works in the healthcare field as a paramedical staff, Kumara came up with a business proposal with him.

“He told me that he had secured a contract from a reputed MNC, that he should conduct RT-PCR covid tests of around 27,000 of their employees in 90 days (three months). At the end of three months, after the reports are sent to the employees, the MNC would pay Rs 2.43 crore to him – which is Rs 900 as the cost of one RT-PCR test. He said the cost of one test was Rs 660 and the rest would be profits,” Pradeep said.

Pradeep was interested to invest Rs 10 lakh, and promised Rs 12.5 lakh returns in 90 days. Kumara also asked Pradeep to spread the word.

Pradeep contacted his brother to do a background check and when he inquired, the brothers learnt that Kumara had been conducting such health camps even at reputed garment factories for women employees in the city. Satisfied that the firm was genuine, they decided to invest.

Pradeep somehow pooled in Rs 35 lakh – taking out savings for around 14 years, he also took his parents’ retirement funds, his brother and his sister-in-law’s savings and invested with the company.

Pradeep believed that he would get the profit returns – a lumpsum amount by December month for his Rs 35 lakh investment. December came and went and there was no sign of any money, and whenever Pradeep contacted Kumara, he is said to have dodged the calls or given excuses. Kumara also requested for some time as he had suffered losses in his business. Pradeep then approached the office of South division Deputy Commissioner of Police and filed a complaint. Based on his complaint, the Banashankari police have registered an FIR against the couple. “The accused have gone absconding and efforts are underway to trace and arrest them,” said a senior police officer.