A realtor playing into the pervasive Indian obsession with caste, duped over a thousand investors off Rs 25 crore, the Deccan Chronicle reported. The victims, who included urbane non-resident Indians and government officials, were promised their own exclusive 'Brahmin' colony.
Such was their desire to avoid staying with people of other castes that they poured in Rs 25 crore in a fake project advertised by a Y. Prabhakar Sharma, who has been arrested by the police according to this report .
Sharma, a native of Guntur, had promised construction of 'Veda Gayatri Agraharam', a residential housing complex exclusively for Brahmins in Chegur village of Kothur Mandal. To make it credible, he ran ads on TV and print that were largely aimed at Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
He even arranged to take them to the proposed site and promised a host of facilities such as a cow-shelter, a marriage hall exclusive to Brahmins; perks that the prospective home buyers deemed as worthy incentives to invest in.
The iniquitous practice of caste discrimination is rampant in India, and a survey in December 2014 showed that 27 percent of Indians still practice caste untouchability, sixty four years after the Indian Constitution outlawed the practice.
Unknown to the home owners, Sharma had no approval for the layouts he showed them. He then registered the plots in the name of customers (who weren't necessarily Brahmin), without any authorization, and took 20 percent of the cost of land as advance and the remaining amount through 100 monthly installments of Rs 5,000. He promised a township spread over 100 acres of land, when he had only 36 acres in his possession.
Police officials, who arrested Sharma, said he was caught after several of the prospective home owners complained that the colony was behind schedule and were threatened with violence.