Indian Ponzi scheme traps innocent poor in Nepali village

Published On: October 1, 2019 07:16 AM NPT By: Nirmal Ghimire

BARDIYA, Oct 1: After his grandfather’s skin ailment was cured with medicines provided by an Indian networking firm, Avash Chaudhari of Govindapur village, Bardiya became a fan of the company and its products. The 18-year-old believes that the firm, Oriens Networking Company, has cures for all types of disease, including cancer. “My grandfather had been suffering since long back, but their medicine, which cost us Rs 4,000, cured him of his disease,” he said.

The incident has really impressed the Chaudhari family. Avash has already taken membership of the company network and has vowed to do his best to expand the networking. “To become a member, all you have to do is pay Rs 60,000 Indian currency,” he said. “You need to go to Lakhinpur in India and get your name registered.”

Avash’s father Bhagiram Tharu owns six kattha [0.5 acre] of land in the village and the family cultivates seasonal crops. Making ends meet is hard and Bhagiram recently found work as peon at a local school. Avash did not have the money to pay for the membership. So he took a loan from a cooperative. He believes the networking business will bring manifold returns. 

Avash is not the only member of the firm’s network in the district. They have told the locals that it is like a ‘midas touch’ and the little amounts of money they have will multiply in no time. This has lured many in the district, mostly from the poorer communities, into membership. 

Sharmila Tharu of Madhuban Municipality, Akshaya Kumar and Binod Kumar Tharu of Bar Bardiya Municipality and Rajendra Tharu of Thakurbaba Municipality, are among those who have become members. Most of them, who are very young, have taken money for the membership from cooperatives at very high interest rates.

While most of them are still all praise for the unique medicines and other appliances provided by the firm ‘which will make them rich very soon’, some have begun to feel cheated. 

According to Sharmila, if they do not repay the money soon, they will incur a huge loss. “I don’t know what to do, I have spent a huge amount to become a member,” she said. She added that she helped many others become members also as that would benefit her. “That was what we were told to do.” 

According to the locals, more youths are getting attracted to the scheme in hopes of getting rich quick. 

Sharmila said she and others were given four days of training on how to recruit other members. 
“They have been working in several other districts also. Dozens of members are being added every day,” she informed. Those who are picked for training are provided room and board in some urban area. “They also provide medicines for HIV/AIDS and other health problems. People come here for one or the other reason and get persuaded to become members,” Sharmila said. 

Republica has found that the firm’s network is fast expanding among the poor in Banke, Bardiya, Dang, Kailali and Kanchanpur. The firm sells various stuff including beauty products, home appliances and several types of medicines. 

According to SP Rajesh Nath Bastola at Bardiya District Police Office, boys and girls have been coming to the police station with complaints against the firm. “They say they have been cheated, while some others are not sure they have really been duped,” he said. 

“We have taken written statements from them for due investigations. This kind of networking business is illegal,” he added. 

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