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Beware of Assured Return Schemes

Most of these schemes put investors money in financial instruments and not in real estate

There’s this hoarding that I see almost every day near my office. It carries a simple message: there’s the name of company that has put up the hoarding, some phone numbers and a URL, and the phrase ‘Assured 14% Return’. That’s it. The hoarding, which appears over the toll booth on the Delhi-Noida toll bridge, doesn’t even say what kind of investment will give this assured return. Since, the name is that of a listed real estate company well-known in Delhi and UP, so many people would know that the assured returns being promised are from real estate.

However, the advertisement itself does not mention real estate. Essentially, it is a financial ad inviting the general public to put their money in an investment and promises assured returns of 14 per cent per annum. A few hundred meter down same road, there’s another hoarding promising assured returns of 12 per cent per annum. On a highway out of Delhi, there’s one for a project in UP which promises ‘guaranteed’ returns of Rs 35,000 per month for an investment of Rs 30 lakh.

Advertisements of this kind essentially solicit financial investments that promise an assured or guaranteed return.

No doubt, there’s probably a real piece of property involved in the transaction but the selling starts with financial advertisements that make an assurance that is arguably illegal to make for any investment in India. Some of these schemes sound no different from the plantation schemes of the 90s. Those racketeers also started out trying to argue that their schemes were not a financial investment because there were actual trees that the investors were buying. I’m not sure which part of the India’s machinery for financial regulation should be paying attention to these advertisements.

But the reality on the ground is that there are people selling investment schemes with promises of guaranteed returns and some authority or the other should surely be looking closely into them.