The director of Ringing Bells, the company which promised a smartphone, the Freedom 251, as the name suggests for an unbelievable price of Rs. 251, has been detained by police on charges of fraud.
Mohit Goel has been detained after owner of Ghaziabad-based Ayam Enterprises filed an FIR yesterday alleging that Ringing Bells “defrauded” it of Rs 16 lakh. Gaziabad Police SP Manish Mishra said Goel has been detained for interrogation in the matter.
“We paid Rs 30 lakh to Ringing Bells through RTGS on different occasions. But it delivered us product worth Rs 13 lakh only. Upon follow-up, we could get products plus money totaling Rs 14 lakh,” Ayam Enterprises claimed in the FIR, along with the fact that they were threatened with their lives if they didn’t stop asking for the pending Rs 16 lakh “again and again”, according to an Economic Times report.
Last year, Ringing Bells had created a sensation after it announced Freedom 251, a smartphone that it promised to sell at a price of Rs 251. Around 30,000 customers had paid the cost and pre-ordered the phone online and seven crore had registered for it. However, so far it has failed to deliver the phones to most of these people who had pre-booked the device. In September, it began selling the phone along with several other models and accessories through Amazon India.
Till December last year, the company had claimed to have delivered 70,000 units in New Delhi, West Bengal, Haryana, Himachal, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Ringing Bells had also claimed that the Freedom 251 was a made-in-India phone and that the company was launching to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India Vision. The company even took out front page advertisements in the leading newspapers in the country. However, in the end it turned out that the Freedom 251 was probably a marketing exercise, likely at the cost of inconvenience to all those who had pre-booked the phone.
In December last year, Mohit Goel and his wife, Dharna Goel, had quit their directorial positions at Ringing Bells.
However, Ringing Bells is not new to controversies. Since its announcement of the Freedom 251, Ringing Bells has faced inquiries by police and tax officials. It was recently summoned to court over a case of a bounced cheque of Rs. 2 lakh. In February last year, even Cyfuture, a BPO company handling the customer service for Ringing Bells and Freedom 251 phone, had accused the company of fraud and non-payment of dues. In March 2016, Noida police had also registered an FIR against Ringing Bells and Mohit Goel based on a complaint from BJP MP Kirit Somaiya.