Is Ringing Bells Conning Customers With the Freedom 251?

Is Ringing Bells, the company behind Freedom 251, conning people?

3 min read

Ringing Bells, the manufacturer of ‘Freedom 251’, has refused to share their production details. The company, which is located in Sector 63, Noida, has made tall claims of delivering the super cheap smartphone by 30 June. But as days pass by, responses from the company’s management begin to sound more like a scam.

Over a telephonic conversation with The Quint, the company’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) informed that the assembly process has already begun. But when we tried to question them further and demanded the address of the assembling unit, our query went unanswered.


The Quint Speaks With Ringing Bells

Here is an excerpt of our conversation with Vrinda Mathur, PRO, Ringing Bells.

Will you be able to deliver these phones to consumers by 30 June?

Yes! We will deliver the phones.

How is that possible without Ringing Bells setting up a manufacturing unit?

We will set up the manufacturing unit in 6 to 8 months.

Is it possible to set up such a huge manufacturing unit within a few months?

Yes, we will. In the meanwhile, to meet the 30 June deadline, we are assembling phones.

Could you please share the address of the assembling units?

We don’t share addresses of our assembling units.

When we persistently asked her the reason for not sharing the address, she told us to send our queries over email. In emails, we probed further into the functioning of the company. More than 24 hours have passed, but we are yet to receive a response.

(The Quint will update this story if and when we receive their reply.)

Is Freedom 251 a Scam in the Making?

Under present circumstances, chances of delivering the handset to customers within the stipulated time period seem bleak. The company claims that they have received 7 crore registrations online, over just two days.

The company has also affirmed receipt of some payments from customers in their escrow account. As per Reserve Bank of India guidelines, the amount in the escrow account cannot be withdrawn by the company until the product is delivered. The company claims that payments will be transferred back to the customers’ accounts if the handsets aren’t delivered within the stated time frame.

How will a company with a Rs 60 lakh capital (as declared by Ringing Bells to the Registrar of Companies) effectively manufacture or assemble all these handsets?

Will it be that easy to track down customers? And how will the bank know whether the product has actually been delivered to the consumer or not?

Investigative agencies say legal action can only be taken against the company only if they fail to fulfill their promises.

We have to wait till 30 June. If the company fails to deliver the phone and not return people’s money, only then an economic fraud case can be registered.
Senior Official, Enforcement Directorate

According to a top Noida police official, a case can be registered against the company on the receipt of a complaint. Nonetheless, the firm’s suspicious functioning has got cops to keep a watch on the owners.

Is Ringing Bells, the company behind Freedom 251, conning people?
Union Minister for Communications and IT Ravishankar Prasad. (Photo: PTI)

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has raised concerns about the company’s ability to produce the said phones. Prasad assures action “as per the law” if any wrongdoings are found.

Our Ministry enquired into how prepared they (Ringing Bells) are, whether they can provide a phone for Rs 251 or not. Whether they have the BIS certificate or not, we have spoken to them.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Telecom Minister
Is Ringing Bells, the company behind Freedom 251, conning people?
The telecom ministry has asked the UP government to check the credentials of Ringing Bells in regard to Freedom 251. (Photo: The Quint)

Moreover, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya approached the Telecom Ministry, Finance Ministry, TRAI and Uttar Pradesh police, levelling serious allegations against Ringing Bells. He said it’s a huge scam and that the government can take preventive measures.

SEBI under Collective investment scheme can take preventive measures to stop a company from committing economic fraud. Secondly, Protection of Interest of Depositor Act, a State Act, which says that if a company is giving abnormal promises, then the collector can initiate action and seize the property of the company.  
Kirit Somaiya, MP, BJP

Somaiya also claimed that the company doesn’t have the required licenses from the government to even begin production.

‘Freedom 251’ seems to be a distant dream. Will investigative agencies preempt an economic fraud? Or, will they act only if something untoward happens? Only time will tell.

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