NEW DELHI (AFP) — A fake government office has been discovered in northern India that collected taxes, provided civic services and even handed out birth and death certificates, a report said Monday.
An office was set up outside Jhansi town in Uttar Pradesh state and 20 people were employed to carry out jobs such as street sweeping.
Officials believe the operation originally started as a scam to collect fees from residents in return for one municipal janitor.
But the leader of the operation, named as Shyam Valmiki, allegedly branched out, opening a functioning office that employed a team of janitors.
The irony here is that the guy who set up a functioning office is the one accused of committing a scam. Why, right here, VDOT, aka the Virginia Creepers, and DMV aspire to one day become functioning offices. This other article continues.
Police believe the racket was initially confined to fake appointment of sweepers. Valmiki’s idea, according to the police, would have primarily been to pocket Rs 40 lakh in the name of ensuring their appointment and then disappear.
“But he later seems to have decided to carry on with the office as it didn’t appear to be a loss-making proposition. And when he tried to change his decision, things went out of hand,” said a police officer.
In other words, once he realized that being the government is the very best of all possible scams, he decided “I’m staying right here.”
Three things strike me about this story. First, that a con man, who would ordinarly run a scam just long enough to make it worth his while, found this monopoly on services that cost him nearly nothing in overhead to be so lucrative that he decided to stay, and even expand. This government thing was too good to pass up. Second, while governments invariably run in the red, extracting even more funding where it fails most egregiously, this fella turned a profit. The residents his office was servicing were happy enough that nobody complained to the other scam artists calling themselves the government until he fired a couple of employees. Which brings me to the third point. This guy actually provided the services local residents expected from the government, and clearly weren’t getting. And to fly under the radar as long as he did, I can only assume he managed to do so without offering his services at the point of a gun
Just who was the scam artist here?