‘Every fraud begins with a belief ’. We, humans, are so gullible that we can easily become a target for malicious artists who want reach into our private lives, our homes and work offices to steal our most valuable personal data and belongings through deception. Such fraudsters tend to lie, cheat, fool and take advantage of innocent people just to satisfy their hunger for money and there is nothing that we can do about it, but to fall prey to them.
Fraud and financial crime are a form of larceny that occur when a person or entity illegally takes money or property from another, and uses it in an illicit manner, with the intent to gain a benefit from it. Such crimes typically involve some form of abuse of a position of trust, which distinguishes them from common theft or robbery. In today's complex economy, frauds, scams and financial crimes can take many forms. Fraudsters use an array of sophisticated methods which range from common forms of financial crimes, like forgery, simple credit card fraud to large scale embezzlement and money laundering in a multinational corporation.
India has had a long history of fraud operations and scams, even before it became a republic. Under Jawaharlal Nehru’s Prime Ministership, there had been many scams involving relatively smaller amounts of money. Such activities were condemned by the Congress government, but no action was taken in its regard. However, such incidents took a rise during PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure. From the 200 billion rupees Abdul Kareem Telgi scam to the Coal gate scam, A. Raja and 2G scam to the Adarsh Scam under INC government in which former CMs and bureaucrats were also indicted. Ultimately, a committee was set up in 1993, consisting of the Intelligence Bureau and CBI's respective directors, to investigate the extent of the fraud that took place in the country and to make it clear who is to be blamed for it. Irrespective of the preventive measures taken by different governments, the recent fraudsters like Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi still managed to escape from the government’s scrutiny and took safe havens abroad.
Putting light on some of the biggest scams of India that shook the nation from its core;
1. Vijay Mallya – Rs. 9000 Crore :
The liquor baron Vijay Mallya was known as the ‘King of good times’, but today things are far from being good for him. In 2016, Mallya absconded the country and sought refuge in the UK after he was accused of fraud and money laundering scam of Rs 9000 crore in the country. He had allegedly taken loan from various banks to keep his now defunct Kingfisher airlines from failing. He was recently declared a fugitive economic offender under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. As per the recent reports the Indian government is trying to extradite him from the UK.
2. Nirav Modi PNB Bank fraud – Rs. 11,400 Crore:
One of the most controversial scams, reportedly took place through Punjab National bank’s Brady house brand. Not just Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and two senior PNB officials were also involved in this fraud. In 2018, PNB filed a case with CBI accusing Nirav Modi and the companies he was connected to of obtaining Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) from PNB without paying up the margin amount against loans. This meant that if those companies failed to pay the loan, PNB would have had to pay the amount
3. Coalgate Scam – Rs. 1.86 lakh crore:
The coal allocation scam or ‘Coalgate’ is a political scandal that surfaced in 2012 when the UPA government was in power. The scam was brought to notice by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), when they accused the government of illegally allocating 194 coal blocks between 2004 and 2009. This was one of the scams that rocked the whole nation from its core as many bureaucrats and politicians were involved in this. Although the CAG estimated the loss of over Rs Rs 1.86 lakh crore in its report.
4. Commonwealth Games scam – Rs. 70,000 crore:
In 2010, the Commonwealth Games held in India made more headlines for the controversies and corruption it was involved in than the games itself. The whole event was marred with accusations of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery and the chairman of Common Wealth Games 2010 Suresh Kalmadi was accused of corruption and malpractices. It was also reported that the Indian athletes were forced to stay in terrible conditions instead of the accommodation allotted to them by the authorities.
5. 2G Spectrum scam – Rs. 1,76,000 crore:
In 2008, the government came under the scrutiny when it was alleged that they had undercharged mobile telephone companies for frequency allocation licenses that were used to create 2G spectrum subscriptions, and at the centre of this controversy was the former Telecom minister A. Raja himself. The CAG had stated that “the difference between the money collected and that mandated to be collected was Rs. 1.76 trillion.” In 2012, the spectrum was declared as “unconstitutional and arbitrary” by the Supreme Court and led to the cancellation of over 120 licenses.
Apart from these, AgustaWestland chopper scam of Rs. 3600 Crore in 2010, Satyam scam of Rs. 14,000 crore in 2009, Hawala scam of $18 million in the 1990’s, BOFORS scandal of Rs. 64 Crore in 1980’s also effected the Indian economy.
In light of these, it would not be wrong to say, that India has always been a land of scams and frauds and these fraudsters prey on people’s fears and desires to get what they want. They take advantage of the political, economic and financial power and position that they enjoy in a particular organisation.
It is impossible to see our country becoming the world’s biggest growing economy when such fraudulent operations are constantly making it weak and hollow. But what hope can we even have for the reduction of these scams, when the government itself is involved in such embarrassing activities like the Vyapam Ghotala and the NRGM scam among others. It is disheartening to see how these bureaucrats, politicians and high post officials exploit innocent and poor people who can’t even afford to have a single meal per day, just to suffice their greed to become richer. And While the government is engrossed in a futile blaming match, the tax-payer is the one who loses out.
Moreover, our mainstream, gossip-hungry media also has a part to play in this. They knowingly or unknowingly distract the audiences with unworthy stories and the pertinent issues which really matter, go unreported. A news channel hosts debates with 30 panellists, loud TV hosts on a particular issue, the conclusions of which are usually of no help to the country. The youth of today is also not motivated enough. They are also to be blamed for being quiet when required to speak up. We all have to collectively fight the problem of corruption to bring a radical change in our system.