The dust has barely settled on the Ringing Bells’ Freedom 251 controversies, and we may have stumbled upon yet another alleged scam in the smartphone industry. Kochi-based mPhone Electronics and Technologies Pvt. Ltd planned on launching its range of affordable smartphones in India, but just before the launch the company’s founders have been jailed in an alleged cheating case. Also Read - World's cheapest smartphone 'Freedom 251' maker Mohit Goel arrested by Delhi policeAlso Read - Ringing Bells Freedom 251 headlines again, MD claims can still deliver phones by early 2018
The Kochi company was founded by siblings, named Josekutty Augustine, Rojy John Augustine, and Anto Augustine. The trio planned on making the most of PM Narendra Modi’s Make in India and Digital India initiatives by launching a range of ‘Mango’ or ‘mPhone’ smartphones and accessories.
The imminent launch of the mPhone devices was aggressively promoted with full-page ads on leading newspapers. But the launch, scheduled this week, never took place since the company’s founders were arrested from the launch venue in Kochi, Indian Express reports. The police arrested Josekutty and Anto for allegedly cheating Bank of Baroda.
The duo are said to have provided falsified documents of a land worth Rs 11.57 crore to the Kalamaserry branch of Bank of Baroda. The report further states that the Augustine brothers have allegedly used the same modus operandi to dupe other banks, including the State Bank of India. That said, Rojy claims the company are still in the dark about the arrest, and were not aware of a complaint filed by the bank. He says that the company had invested around Rs 3,500 crore to launch the mPhone brand.
A quick look at the company’s website reveals what the company planned on launching. It would have launched six smartphones priced between Rs 11,999 and Rs 39,999, called the mPhone 5S, mPhone 6, mPhone 7 Plus, mPhone 8, mPhone 9 Plus, and the mPhone 11 Plus. Also listed is a M2 smartwatch with a price tag of Rs 12,999, and a bunch of accessories like Bluetooth headsets, power banks and wireless chargers among others. At the time of filing the story, all the devices are ‘Out of Stock’.