Littlesaves is not just about saving money. It is also about preserving and safe-guarding our hard earned money. Here are details on a Bharti-Axa insurance scam which almost caught me off guard and cheated me with false promises.
What is more shocking is that the scammers were working with permission from Bharti-Axa, so not 3rd party scammers, but people directly hired by Bharati Axa to sell it’s policies. And believe it or not, when I raised a complaint to Bharti Axa, the team at the insurer didn’t care.
Basis of the scam
I received a call from people claiming to be employees of Bharti Axa insurance, saying that it is the insurer’s Anniversary and so they are giving an offer to people buying their Elite Advantage Plan in the next 6 hours. Yes, they were hell bent on closing the sale and taking my money within a few hours, giving me very little time to think things through.
As per the call, I was asked to invest a sum of Rs.1,05,000 per year for the next 12 years. Now here are the promises they made:
- At the end of 12 years I will start receiving a monthly income of Rs.9,450 for the next 9 years.
- At the end of 21 years, when the policy matures, I will get the money I paid back
- Plus, I will also be getting the sum assured back when the policy matures
- In addition, I will be getting death benefits
So if you look at it there are 4 major benefits to choosing this Insurance plan. However in truth, the whole fraud is that they are mis-selling this plan by adding one major benefit which is actually not there in the brochure or on the website.
The False promise that makes this a fraud
The false promise is that they say you will be getting the money you pay back, which is totally a lie. You will get a monthly income, you will get the Sum Assured. But you will not be getting the money you paid back.
Example of the calculation
In my case, after I pay Rs.12,00,000 in 12 years, I will get Rs.9,450 for 108 months which is Rs.10,20,600 and the Sum Assured which is about Rs.12,00,000. In addition the frauds promised I will also get the money I paid back, which is about Rs.12,00,000 at the end of the policy. So:
- As per the sellers I will get a total benefit of Rs.34,20,600 for my investment of Rs.12,00,000 in a span of 20 years
- In reality I will only be getting a total benefit of Rs.22,20,600 for my investment of Rs.12,00,000 in a span of 20 years. Which is actually a negative return if you consider inflation.
If you are thinking I understood it wrong, then let me clear that up. I did not understand it wrong. I made them total these up and the final benefit that I am to receive in 21 years according to them is 34 lakhs.
The problem with this fake promise is that, if you fell for this scam, you will only realize the lie after 20 years. There is no way you will know that you have been cheated and the sum assured will not be paid out after 20 years, till the time you need to get the payment.
Imagine you are saving up for your daughter’s marriage, pay the premiums diligently and after 20 years, instead of Rs,24,00,000 you get Rs.12,00,000 and the people at Bharti Axa say they are not responsible for your belief. Will you be able to find the scammers who cheated you after 20 years?
How I verified the details
I read through the policy brochure and there was no mention of me getting the money paid back. So I asked them why the policy documents does not mention me getting the money paid back at the end of the policy period.
They said that adding that benefit will make the total value of the insurance go up and increase the GST cost so the company does not mention it on the brochure in order to keep the GST amount low. Now that is a classic bullshit answer.
I asked them to put these on an email and send to me and only then will I buy the policy. They declined saying it is “against company policy”!
Mr.Swapnil (the main culprit in this) said after I buy the policy, I will get the policy pack which will have all the details that they promised on the call. The only problem is, first I will need to make the payment.
Online checks & Bharti-Axa and IIFL connection
So as I spoke more with them, I started collecting more details. Then I told them clearly no matter what I will not pay till I check everything. Then I went online to do more checks and here is what I found.
- The people selling were not actual employees of Bharti Axa Insurance.
- They were employees of IIFL which is a seller acting on behalf of Bharti Axa insurance.
- IIFL and Bharti Axa both have a number of complaints for the same Elite Advantage plan where they have mis-sold insurance to people making false promises and then simply claim the understanding of the buyer was false.
- Here is a list of complaints I read on Mouthshut. I was horrified after reading through this
- Here is another complaint on a similar case. This one is from 2018, but mentions the same team. So these guys have been using the same tactics to scam people for years now.
- More surprising is that the team selling to me were the exact same team members mentioned on the complaints. An a**hole called Swapnil Dhende (mobile:9967199536) who can sweet talk pretty well. Then there was Sandeep (mobile:7506301460), Ganesh, Mahesh and a few more.
After all this happened, I called the Bharti-Axa call center and complained and they said they are not responsible for 3rd party sellers. I then wrote an email to their customer care email support. I got an scripted response back saying they will look into it.
To this day I see new complaints from others who have been attacked by the same team of Swapnil. So Bharti Axa is well aware of what is happening, but has allowed IIFL to continue selling Insurance making false promises.
Pressure Tactics used
The sales folks behind this scam used a number of high pressure sales tactics which most people wont be able to withstand if they are not aware what is happening.
The sales people were all trained to talk really fast and without giving an opportunity to let the buyer (me) in this case talk. They kept throwing jargons and numbers. When I tried to talk they kept asking me to listen to them. At one point, I had to tell them to shut up and listen to me otherwise I will cut the call. Only then was I even allowed to talk.
Along with fast talking, there was a lot of pressure to make the buy decision immediately. They wanted me to transfer a lakh just like that on the call itself. In order to get me to take this decision, they said that the 60th Anniversary offer will expire in a few hours. They kept saying if I wait till tomorrow I will not get as much benefits.
Multiple people talking
Once the sales men decide you are interested, they start passing the phone to multiple people who claim to be at senior positions. I first spoke with a sales staff, then a manager, then a senior manager and finally a director of some sort. All to get you to think that this is a very large and trust worthy company and not a scam.
Fake promises and promises of lots of money and riches
The sellers promise you a lot in terms of reduced GST. In my case:
- they said GST is 18% and as an offer they will be giving it to me at 5%.
- They said I will get 2% extra returns if I choose right now. When asked how, they were not able to prove it.
- They promised to add a bonus to my Sum Assured as a 60th Anniversary gift which will be visible on my account after I make all the payments in 10 years. I asked for an email confirmation and they said it cant be confirmed on email. But to trust and buy. Once again, after 10 years when this bonus is not visible who can you ask?
- Even worse, they promised a 2% kick back amount. After I told them that I know they are working for IIFL, they said IIFL gets a 4% commission from Bharti Axa and if I buy from them, after 3 months I will get a 2% kick back for buying the policy through them as a UPI transfer to my bank.
Think twice and take your time when buying Insurance
I will repeat it again. Please think twice and take your time when buying an insurance. In most cases you will make a commitment to pay a premium for 10 years or more. All these policies are structured in such a way that you will only get a portion of your money back if you choose to surrender before maturity.
I am not saying the policy is bad. If you are looking for life cover and a monthly tax free income and if you are ok with a lower rate of return, this policy may just work for you. Infact there are much better policies on the same lines in LIC too.
But make sure you are not fooled into thinking you have very little time to make a decision. Take your time to verify thoroughly.
Buyer Be Ware
Calculate all the benefits, pros and cons of the insurance plan you are considering before making the decision. Make the insurance seller list down everything and send it to you on email. Make sure this email is from the company domain name and not their personal gmail/hotmail email address. If you are on call and can record the call please do so.
Read through policy documents carefully. Go online and check out reviews of others who bought the same plan. See what difficulty they went through. If a**holes such as Swapnil try to fast talk and force you to buy the insurance quickly, tell them to get lost. If in doubt check of the number of poor people on Mouthshut who bought the policy and could not return it (even during the free look period).
20 years later, once you realize you were cheated and bought the insurance under false promises a Swapnil or Ganesh will not be around. You will have very limited legal options. The court will say it is your duty to carry out due diligence. Jagte Raho.