I am really amused and surprised to see how staunch Modi supporters got fooled by Neel Patel who overnight became a blue eyed boy for right wingers. Since Tuesday night, the hashtag ‘iPhoneScam’ has been trending on Twitter with many users alleging a racket has been carried out by a person seemingly conning others by selling them iPhones at cheaper rates. This scam came to light when a Twitter user Nishant Kumar Singh released a video on YouTube accusing Neel Patel of multiple scams. In a Twitter thread, Nishant has also listed several other alleged scams by Neel Patel. Hitesh Patel, aka Neel Patel, who is a serial scammer with a record of numerous frauds across India and abroad. Of his latest initiatives was an iPhone scam ruse online as the “biggest sale” on pre-order of devices such as the Apple iPhone 11 (sold at Rs 26,949 against retail price of Rs 51,990) and the iPhone 12 Pro (sold at Rs 67,449 against retail price of Rs 1,19,990). The deals have been promoted via an app called Squeaks Media, which too is founded by Patel. With the help of Twitter influencers, he then improved his reliability on the internet and that’s how he overnight became famous.
The latter has been billed as a ‘Swadeshi’ social media platform that offers a voice for the traditionalists. Consumers fell in trap when the deals were asked to pay through NaaradPay – a service that was also built as a nationalist alternative to other payment apps. Patel received over 8,000 orders, amounting to over Rs 40 crore. Later on the IT cell public on Twitter have realised that the one who installed NaaradPay or Squeaks Media have, by default, given access to their personal photo gallery and SMS inbox to Patel, who in turn has exploited such data. Patel was allegedly answering customer queries via Twitter DMs reveal him claiming that if an order for 100 iPhones is placed with “any Apple store in India”, they will ask for three to four weeks to deliver on the order. Given that he has received over 8,000 orders, customers should hold tolerance on receiving their units. Needless to say, the entire operation appears to be a scam racket, taking the iPhone scam occurrences to a whole new level.
However, upon receiving the payments from customers, he allegedly didn’t deliver iPhones to anyone. Few customers received iPhones to make people believe in his iPhone offer. He delivered iPhones to those influencers who can make people believe that the offer is genuine. Somehow these influences also got trapped by spreading the word and fetching booking for him. There are people who have ordered four phones; some even ordered 18- 20 phones. They thought they would cash in on this tremendous offer, even sell a couple of phones at normal rates. The greedy public thought of making money out of this deal but no one cross verified the claims just because he pretended to be Modi supporter and right winger who is nationalist Hindu. This was a license to influence people.
When the phones did not arrive, people began applying for refunds. Obviously, even that took weeks. He was intimidating people left, right and centre. He told people that he was the son of a BJP MLA and that Prime Minister Modi visited his home. This was another advantage he added to his successful scam. Finally some people went on to verify Patel’s company address in a Gujarat village filed with the Registrar of Companies. The one who went to trace Patel found out that the address didn’t exist. No one knew this man there.
Suddenly all the investors realised that they got fooled, now all eyes were on businessman Hiteshkumar Gordhanbhai Patel alias Neel Patel. Users soon discovered that the Squeaks and its sister venture, Naarad Pay, an online payment company, had swindled users of crores of rupees. By getting influenced by a famous right winger’s twitter account, many educated people, lawyers, cops, businessmen and government employees in Maharashtra placed an order for an iPhone.
This is not the first phone scam in India, remember freedom 251 scam? Six crore bookings were made for the phone and even at the rate of Rs 251 each; the mobile company collected hundreds of crores of rupees. This Noida based start-up, which launched the mobile, had said they had developed it with support from the government. Soon after the launch ceremony where a veteran BJP leader was present, doubts were raised about the genuineness of the company’s claim to provide phones at the rate of Rs 251. The face-off turned one right-winger against another, dividing them by their allegiance, or lack of it, to both the scams now iPhone scheme then the smart phone scam. These days, if you just keep whisper Hindu, Hindutva, saffron, armed forces and Atmanirbhar, rightwing, Modi and Beef Twitter users will upright a business for conmen. In smartphone scam nothing is the outcome and no follow up similarly, in the iPhone scam the Twitter handles of Squeaks and NaaradPay were suspended on February 17. Patel’s tweets from 2020 cannot be viewed but no one has the ability to reach this guy. However, as Twitter now plumbs the depths of this alleged fraud, and users make desperate pleas about the loss they have incurred, the endorsers have disassociated themselves from Patel through tiny tweets. Finally, the Maharashtra government has ordered the probe.