Two held for failing to deliver Freedom 251 smartphones

New Delhi: The owners of a smartphone manufacturing firm were arrested on Sunday for allegedly siphoning off Rs 3.27 crore from Noida-based Ringing Bells but failing to deliver smartphones named Freedom 251. The accused — Vikas Sharma (35) — is the director of Vie Technology Private Limited, which manufactures cellphones in Delhi.

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His associate, Jitendra Harwani alias Jeetu (40), was also arrested. A second associate, Shatrughan Prasad, is absconding. Noida police said the two accused were produced in court and sent to judicial custody.

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Mohit Goel, managing director of Ringing Bells, had filed a case against them in Sector 49 police station on November 23. He said his firm had planned to deliver smartphones to people at Rs 251 in 2015. The domestic handset maker’s irresistible offer was an overnight sensation, with around 7.50 crore people pre-booking their sets. A countrywide response also led to the website’s crash.

The scheme, though, was soon mired in controversy, as Ringing Bell’s distributors filed cases against Goel for cheating in Ghaziabad. He was arrested and sent to judicial custody for six months in February, and only released on bail on August 27.

Goel blamed Sharma and his accomplice for not delivering smartphones to customers. He said he had met Sharma in August 2015, when the latter had demonstrated smartphones on his website. “Vikas claimed he owns a factory and office in China and would deliver each smartphone at Rs 1,080. I collaborated with some mobile apps to provide the handsets at subsidized rates,” Mohit told TOI.

Goel said he first transferred Rs 35 lakh through RTGS to Vikas. “By January 2016, I had transferred Rs 3.27 crore on his company account. However, the accused siphoned off the money and did not deliver the goods. Every time I asked him about the smartphones, he made some excuse,” he said.
Sharma denied the allegations and said he had delivered more handsets than what he had been paid for.