Police has detained Mohit Goel, the director of Ringing Bells, the company behind’s last year Freedom 251 phone for alleged fraud. Goel was held after Ghaziabad-based Ayam Enterprises filed an FIR on Wednesday alleging that Ringing Bells “defrauded” it of Rs 16 lakh.

Last year Ringing Bells had created a sensation after it announced Freedom 251, a smartphone that it promised to sell at a price of Rs 251. The company took pre-orders from hundreds of thousands of people. However, so far it has failed to deliver the phones to most of these people who had pre-booked the device.

Ghaziabad deputy SP Manish Mishra said Goel has been detained for interrogation in the matter.

In the FIR, Ayam Enterprises has claimed it was persuaded by Goel and others from Ringing Bells to take up the distributorship of the Freedom 251 phones in November 2015.

“We paid Rs 30 lakh to Ringing Bells through RTGS on different occasions. But it delivered us product worth Rs 13 lakh only. Upon follow-up, we could get products plus money totalling Rs 14 lakh,” it claimed in the FIR.

The owners of Ayam Enterprises claim that they were threatened with life if they asked for the rest Rs 16 lakh “again and again”.

The Freedom 251 looked like a scam since very beginning. The phone was seemingly a re-branded Chinese phone that was picked up at a price of a few thousand rupees from Chinese market. However, these units were just the display units. Ringing Bells never showed that it had the ability to manufacture or even import hundreds of thousands of phones to supply them to all those people who pre-booked it.

Ringing Bells had also claimed that the Freedom 251 was a made-in-India phone and that the company was launching to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India Vision. The company even took out front page advertisements in the leading newspapers in the country. However, in the end it turned out that the Freedom 251 was probably a marketing exercise, likely at the cost of inconvenience to all those who had pre-booked the phone. Ringing Bells later came out with several other phones that were priced more regularly, in line with the price of other budget phones in the market.

— With PTI inputs

Also Read: Ringing Bells MD Mohit Goel has quit, but company claims Freedom 251 isn’t dead

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