An apple that turned bad for investors
In what could be termed as one of the biggest real estate frauds in the state of Kerala , a Kochi based company ‘Apple-A-Day Properties’ reportedly swindled a staggering amount of 100 crore from buyers which included 125 Indian expatriates in the Middle East. The customers were lured into their trap by smart advertisement campaigns and roadshows in various cities like Bangalore. Many IT professionals bit the bait of the smart city trump card of Kochi and the emergence of this city as an IT hub. Though the fraudulent company floated several projects like bigapple, apple nano, apple.com, apple suite and many more, none of these were completed even after many years.
Many customers invested huge amounts ranging from 50 lakhs to over 1 crore in each project though none of these took off. It is shocking to note that many of the investors had been paying EMI of Rs 10,000 to Rs 24,000 for the last three years for the flat which they had booked to pay off the home loans that they have taken.
The company offered villas and apartments in the heart of the city at attractive rates and it banked upon the goodwill it created through a couple of completed projects to attract buyers. Though the investors became apprehensive after it missed many deadlines for its 11 new projects, formal complaints were lodged only as recently as a few weeks back, which again raises a different set of questions .
The firm’s Director and Managing Director went underground after withdrawing money from all their accounts after the company allegedly went bust a few weeks ago. They allegedly used the money to lead a lavish life style and the police has confiscated around 20 luxury cars of theirs. After giving a slip for over a month, the promoters – Saju Kadavilan and Rajiv Kumar Cheruvara surrendered and the police is trying to tie up the loose ends of this real estate scam by taking them to the various project sites and ascertaining the fate of the money collected from the buyers.
So far around 250 FIRs have now been registered against the company and more owners are coming up with their complaints. The duped customers have also formed a buyers association to take up the case of the buyers who have invested their hard earned money to buy a home of their dreams. Police sources say ‘Apple-A-Day’ fraud is only a tip of the iceberg and that many real estate developers are under the scanner. Now that the government has promised tough action against fraudulent real estate companies, the victims are hopeful of a getting justice at the earliest.