Mobile tower installation scam, a new type of mass market fraud which has been sweeping across the country, is also targeting gullible victims here in Nagaland. This mass market fraud centers on the installation of a mobile tower on property owned by the victim.
The modus operandi of the scam is to entice a targeted victim into paying a deposit to set up a mobile tower on their land. Once the money is deposited, the fraudsters completely cut contact and disappear.
Modus operandi of mobile tower fraudsters
Most recently, Kevin (name changed) who resides in 6th Mile, Dimapur was nearly duped in such a scam. According to Kevin, people who claimed themselves as representing ‘Airtel’ company based in West Bengal called and inquired if he had a plot of land for installation of the company’s mobile tower.
When he responded positively and expressed interest on the proposition, the fraudsters reportedly asked for details of the area he was residing along with a landmark. They then called to tell him they have surveyed the area in Google map and that his land was eligible for installing the mobile tower.
In what seemed like a “too good to be true” offer, the fraudsters told him that once the tower was installed, he would be credited a sum of Rs 27,000 as rent along with Rs 14,500 as tower operator salary and Rs 9000 for a security guard to his account every month. Further, he was promised an advance token money of Rs 6 lakh which would also be credited to his account.
Kevin was then asked to mail documents such as pan card, voter id, passport size photo, ration card, photocopy of land property, bank passbook updated copy etc.
The fraudsters also mailed him technical documents for the tower layout under the company’s letterhead along with Google mapping of the area and a detail project report. The mail also contained a certification of trademark from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)-Government of India.
While all these documents appeared to be genuine, Kevin became suspicious when he was asked to deposit Rs 58,000 as technical clearance charge and Rs 30,000 as trade license charge, both of which, he was ‘assured,’ would be refunded.
When Kevin enquired at the Dimapur Airtel to verify the credentials, he was told it was all a scam carried out by fraudsters. Kevin said he has already lodged an FIR at Diphupar police station.
While Kevin may have been vigilant enough not to fall prey to the scam, there are many from Nagaland who have reportedly been duped with lakhs of rupees in such scams.
Mobile operators clarify on mobile installation procedures
General Manager, Sales, Airtel Dimapur, Robin when contacted informed The Morung Express that they have also received numerous complaints from individuals in Nagaland on how they were conned into depositing money on the pretext of installing mobile tower in their plot of land, after which the fraudsters disappeared.
Victims of the fraud include people from areas as far as Kiphire and Pfustero, he said. How people can simply deposit money to someone or anyone without even meeting them in person, the GM wondered.
He said no cellular company follows such a procedure as carried out by the fraudsters for installation of mobile tower. Robin explained that for tower installation, telecom companies decide the location based on RF (radio frequency) analysis of the area, business requirement, identifying the coordinates of the location (latitude and longitude) etc.
Further, it is mandatory to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the chairman of the colony or village where the tower would be installed, he said.
Besides, the telecom company or infrastructure provider company do not seek any advance money from the landowner. The towers are installed free of cost and there is no need to pay any money in the form of registration fee, booking fee, etc.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on its website says it is not directly or indirectly involved in levying any tax/ fees on leasing the premises for installation of a mobile tower or for issuing any ‘No Objection Certification’ for the purpose.
This public notice came in the wake of some companies/agencies/individuals asking people to deposit money in their personal/companies account as Government Tax under Telecom Act 1972 or for clearing of the advanced payment etc. in lieu of leasing the premises of individuals for installation of Mobile tower.
After collecting the money these companies/agencies/individuals become unreachable.
It stated that anyone dealing with such companies/agencies/individuals will be doing so at his/her own risk and TRAI cannot be held responsible for any loss or damages suffered directly or indirectly.
Source: Morung Express News