Mohit Goel, the founder of Ringing Bells, the Indian company that had promised to offer “cheapest smartphone in the world,” was arrested on suspicion of fraud after Ayam Enterprises accused him of failing to reimburse a non-cash millionaire purchase. He was detained late Thursday afternoon in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, according to Reuters.
The arrest was against the FIR filed by the Ayam Enterprises, who had paid 3 million rupees ($ 138,000) for a batch of the Freedom 251 smartphone but received only part of the order with several defective devices. After requesting the repayment, the company said it had received only a total of 1.4 million rupees (cash) and the new handsets. By ordering Ringing Bells to fully refund the purchase, Ayam Enterprises owners said they had suffered death threats from Mohit Goel.
Freedom 251 drew attention to its being announced in 2016 as the “cheapest smartphone in the world”, costing just 251 rupees (equivalent to $4 in today’s price), which attracted high demand but also the distrust of critics and skeptics over its business model – including India’s own price regulators, one of the world’s largest low-cost smartphone markets.
The company, which had shot to sudden fame last February with this announcement, had witnessed a surge in pre-orders from customers anxious to get their hands on the smartphones. However, a few months into their sales operations, the company failed to deliver most of these smartphones to the customers.
The FIR filed by Ayam Enterprises owners has named four other individuals who are all associated with the administration of Ringing Bells.These include present Managing Director Anmol Goel, Mohit’s wife Dharna Garg (former CEO), General Manager Sumit Kumar, and Mohit’s partner Ashok Chaddha.
The police have also claimed that they had received several other complaints of fraud against Ringing Bells. However, the fraudulent company Ringing Bells has yet to comment on the case and the founder of Ringing Bells, Mohit Goel will be brought to trial this week.