On the promise of renting out a house, conman allegedly dupes many in Bengaluru

Kaliprasad alias Kali Rath or Karan Rath, has cases of cheating against him in Delhi and Pune as well but remains at large.
Kaliprasad Rath is allegedly a wanted man in three different states. For years, Kaliprasad Rath alias Kaliprasad Sobhaker Rath alias Karan Rath has allegedly fooled many in Bengaluru, Pune and New Delhi. His latest victims? The average white collar professional, looking for a home in the areas close to Bengaluru’s central business district.

A 28-year-old engineer Sunil*, who works in a startup, had come to Bengaluru from Delhi and was looking for an apartment in Indiranagar. He contacted Kaliprasad on a Facebook group. Kaliprasad then allegedly showed Sunil a house near the Indiranagar Metro Station. On November 19, Sunil allegedly paid Kaliprasad Rs 30,000 and subsequently paid him Rs 1 lakh on November 21 in two installments.

Sunil grew suspicious as Kaliprasad had informed him that he had leased the building from the building owner. He did a quick Google search about the company Kaliprasad said he had set up – Whitton Hospitality Pvt Ltd. Sunil had also received invoices and emails with the company’s letterhead. The Google search also led him to various news articles dating back to 2012 and 2014, where Kaliprasad Rath’s was listed as an accused in scams he allegedly perpetrated in Pune and Delhi. But by then it was too late.

Although Sunil approached the Indiranagar Police and asked for their help, he did not want to file a complaint and had instead hoped that Kaliprasad would return his money, Indiranagar Police told. However, the police say that they are aware of Kaliprasad’s alleged scam.

The modus operandi

According to the police, Kaliprasad allegedly gets his companies registered with the Registrar of Companies in order to seem like a legitimate businessman. He allegedly scouts for newly constructed apartments available for rent and makes a note of the addresses.

This information, police say, he uses to lure his victims. According to the Indiranagar Police, Kaliprasad is allegedly active on a Facebook group called Flats and Flatmates and Flats Without Brokers, where he allegedly puts up posts with details of houses available for rent. When people see the post and send him a personal message, he shares with them his phone number.

Indiranagar police say that Kaliprasad allegedly tells home owners that he is a broker and gets access to the keys of the house. In some cases, police say, Kaliprasad allegedly informs the victims that he has leased the house from the owners for five to six years. In some cases, police say, he allegedly tells the home owners that he would furnish the house for them to procure the keys.

He allegedly accompanies his victims to show them the flats. “He sends all his victims an email stating that all transactions should happen via net banking or Google Pay. This gives his victims the feeling that everything is legitimate. He even sends them invoices with company letterheads,” the Indiranagar Police say.

Once the victims finalise on a house to rent, Kaliprasad allegedly asks them to transfer the deposit money to his bank account. “A few days later, the actual house owner would ask the victims to vacate. When they call Kaliprasad, he either evades their questions or does not respond to them,” the police say.

The previous scams

But Kaliprasad has allegedly duped a number of people over the years, police say.

In 2012, the Delhi Police arrested Kaliprasad for allegedly duping a jeweler to the tune of Rs 5 lakh. Kaliprasad was out on bail and landed in Pune. All this time, the Delhi police had issued a lookout notice for Kaliprasad after a non-bailable warrant was issued against him for failing to appear for the trial.

The police found that he was in Pune in August 2014 when a massive job scam came to light. Over 200 techies had accused Kaliprasad of duping them to the tune of Rs 5 crore by offering them a job at his startup – Knowledge Transition Consultancy. He allegedly hired 200 employees and took from them around Rs 1 lakh each. When the employees ended up sitting in the office with no work for three months, they got suspicious and in August 2014, one of the employees, Pranoti Yashwanth Borkar filed a complaint with the Hadapsar Police in Pune.

Kaliprasad was arrested and sent to judicial custody. When the Delhi Police heard of his arrest, they sought his custody in October that year. The Hadapsar Police were taking him to New Delhi and had put him up at a lodge near the Railway Station when Kaliprasad broke open the window pane of the bathroom and absconded.

For years, Kaliprasad’s whereabouts remained unknown until June 2018, when Thirumale Gowda, a native of Hassan filed a complaint with the HSR Layout Police stating that he had applied for a visa through a consultancy firm located in HSR Layout and was duped of Rs 1.6 lakh. KT Consultancy is located in 27th Main in Sector 1, HSR Layout and Thirumale Gowda had alleged that Kaliprasad had failed to procure him a visa and when asked for a refund, the cheque given to him bounced.

An FIR was registered against Kaliprasad in June 2018 under section 420 (cheating) of the IPC. However, HSR Layout Police did not comment when asked whether he was arrested and whether they knew his whereabouts.

In the same year, in July a lawyer working in Bengaluru – Chaitali Sheth, contacted Kaliprasad through the Facebook Group Flats and Flatmates when she was looking for a house for rent in Indiranagar. Kaliprasad allegedly took Rs 1 lakh from her as deposit and absconded on the day he was to handover the keys of the house. He claimed to the owner of a company called SacoRooms. Chaitali wrote on the consumer complaints forum and found that Kaliprasad had allegedly cheated over 20 people in Indiranagar and Jeevan Bhima Nagar. She collected the contact information of the victims and formed a WhatsApp group to keep track of the status of their cases.

“He led us believe that his business was legitimate because he kept insisting on making online transfers. When I found that so many people have been duped, I formed a WhatsApp group and all of us approached the police together. The group was meant to get inputs on whether victims had got their money back,” Chaitali told.

Police say that Kaliprasad runs various companies – Workoola, Whitton Hospitality Pvt Ltd, Knowlegde Transition Consultancy, SacoRooms and Pinnacle Jobhunt Placements.

“See, we have received so many cases but the victims only want their money back and say they don’t want to pursue a court case. Without a complaint we cannot register an FIR and arrest him. We don’t know what other scams he has perpetrated. If there are people who have been duped by him and are willing to come forward and file complaints, we will arrest him and investigate the matter,” the Indiranagar Police say.

Why victims did not file police complaints

Another victim Priyanka Patel, who works as a digital marketing executive in Bengaluru, says that she had paid Kaliprasad Rs 40,000 as deposit for a paying guest flat in Richmond Town in 2018. Three days after she moved into the house, the home owner asked her to leave saying that he had not received any payment from Kaliprasad. Priyanka kept calling Kaliprasad. However, it was only after months of pleading, Kaliprasad allegedly returned only Rs 12,000 of the total amount she had given him.

“Chaitali, me and so many others only wanted our money back. Kaliprasad had told all the victims that if we filed a police complaint, he would not give the money back as he would not be liable to until the trial took its course. That would take years so most of us decided not to file formal police complaints. The Jeevan Bhima Nagar Police, however, helped us get at least a part of our money back,” she says.

Chaitali says that since she had paid a huge sum, her first priority was to get her money back. Chaitali says that she followed up with the police every day until Kaliprasad was forced to give her money back.

“I did not file a complaint but I kept going to the police station. They had been tracking his phone and he was brought to the station. He returned my money but I got lucky. There were so many victims who did not. In fact, I met some of the victims at the police station as I used to visit frequently to check up on what the police were doing. Some of the victims only got a partial sum back,” she says.

The Ancient Times

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