New Delhi: Chit fund companies have duped thousands of gullible depositors of at least Rs 80,000 crore, according to estimates of CBI which is probing such cases across the country.
Agency sources said the amount is likely to be higher than the initial estimate as the probe is still on. These companies with operations across the country lured people by offering attractive interest rates and, in the case of Pearls Group, land.
Over Rs 30,000 crore has allegedly been collected from small investors by the chit fund companies operating in four eastern and northeastern states -- West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Tripura, while Pearls Group which operates in Punjab and other north Indian states duped investors to the tune of Rs 51,000 crore, they said.
The deposits mobilised by the companies was allegedly used to purchase land, open media outlets, hotels and other businesses, denying depositors their dues.
The sources said the figure of Rs 80,000 crore is an estimate based on investigation so far and quantification of deposits collected from investors is still going on.
CBI has so far registered 76 cases, based on over 253 FIRs in these four states with 31 charge-sheets being filed by the agency in connection with the scam.
The agency has filed three cases against Rose Valley Group and seven against Saradha Group in connection with the fraud, called Saradha scam.
The sources said over six crore people have been duped by the companies across the country with majority of them allegedly being trapped by Pearls Group which has been operating for last 20 years before being busted by the agency.
The sheer sweep of the scam makes it one of the most difficult cases to be investigated by the agency in which several big operators including a former Union Minister, a state minister, an MP, a former journalist and politicians are being probed by it, they said.