Nearly five months after Ashtavinayak Investment closed its office in Pune’s Nucleus Mall after allegedly defrauding over 200 “profile investors” out of about Rs 300 crore, one of the victims, Prabhat Ranjan, an IT professional from Kharadi, has ended his life.

Ranjan borrowed Rs 88 lakh from six banks and invested it in Selva Nadar’s Ashtavinayak Investment in June 2021. He owed the banks Rs 1.82 lakh a month in EMIs and lost his job in December 2022. As per police, Ranjan was also cheated out of Rs 15 lakh between July 2021 and March 2023 by one of his relatives, who claimed to be investing the money in a business and provided him with forged bills and cheques as proof.

Earlier this month, a friend of Ranjan’s bought a Mercedes car from him for Rs 7.5 lakh but paid only Rs 3 lakh.

The Chandangar police said that Ranjan killed himself at 3.45 am on Thursday at Yin Yang Society in Kharadi, where he stayed with his wife Neha Gupta and two twin daughters aged 10. He left a two-page suicide note in which he blamed the people who had defrauded him for his extreme decision.

Police have registered a case against Nadar, former manager at Ashtavinayak Prasad Shinde, and relative Sachin Kumar (resident of Patna, Bihar) and friend Ajinkya Lokhande (resident of Wanworie) under sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code on a complaint filed by Ranjan’s elder brother Rajeev Ranjan.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Neha Gupta, also an IT professional, said, “For the last few months he was extremely troubled due to the Ashtavinayak scam. He was getting a number of bank recovery calls, legal notices and personal visits. He always tried to handle those on his own so as to protect us from harassment. Later, he was cheated by cousin Sachin Kumar and Ajinkya Lokhande, which made things worse. It’s important that victims of the Ashtavinayak scam get help from authorities. I urge others to take care and not to take any extreme steps.”

Rajeev, who lives in Ranchi, said, “He was feeling depressed because of the series of cheating that happened with him. He called me on July 12. He told me that he was feeling afraid. I told him that I would come down to Pune to be with him. However, on July 13 morning, I received a call from his friend with the terrible news.”

Ranjan was one of the over 200 people who have allegedly been cheated by Ashtavinayak Investment’s “profile investor” scheme, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Pune police’s Economic Offences Wing. As per police, Nadar and his clients approached high-salaried individuals having good credit records with the “profie investor” scheme, in which the firm obtained personal loans in the investors’ names from multiple banks at the same time.

The amount was then invested in Nadar’s company, which promised high returns and pledged to pay the EMIs on time. The loan amounts disbursed were much higher than the clients’ loan eligibility and repayment capacity.

Appasaheb Shewale, assistant commissioner of police (EOW), told The Indian Express that the investigation in the case was ongoing. “We are trying to trace the main accused Nadar. We have been contacting the banks and collecting information about the fraud. This is a complex financial crime and hence the investigation is taking some time,” he said.

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