Many of the alleged victims have now come together to file a complaint against Bada Business with the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing.
Sanjay | February 8, 2024 | 12:11 PM IST
NEW DELHI: While scrolling through her Facebook feed in January 2023, Pooja Bhalshankar was “tempted” to learn how she can earn upto Rs 5 lakh in a month. She had seen a video in which a disabled person was relating how he earned more than Rs 5 lakh by becoming an independent business consultant (IBC) of Bada Business Pvt. Ltd (BBPL).
The IBC programme promises to pay commissions in exchange for consulting or selling products and courses of BBPL. The BBPL was started by Vivek Bindra in 2019 and is headquartered in Delhi.
Bhalshankar, 32 and from Pune, is an engineer by training. She had met with an accident in 2018 and was receiving treatment for it till she lost her money in the “IBC scam of Vivek Bindra”.
“My father had spent all of his savings on my treatment. I was guilty that I was unable to help my family. I saw an advertisement video of BBPL and filled out the form attached with the video. BBPL officials called me and offered me this so-called big opportunity to earn money,” Bhalshankar told Careers360. Instead of making Rs 5 lakh per month as promised, she lost Rs. 80,000 she could not afford to lose on the course.
She is not alone. Thousands like her have been allegedly scammed by BBPL whose main offerings were a 10-day MBA and the IBC programme, lasting three to six months. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which regulates management education, has stated categorically that policy does not allow a 10-day MBA.
The BBPL allegedly sold false dreams of earning lakhs by learning business skills to thousands. Those taken in include students and homemakers; many of them took loans, mortgaged their spouses’ jewellery and quit jobs to join the Bada Business programmes. On Thursday, 700 of them got together to file a complaint against Bada Business with the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing.
Victims told Careers360 that in the style of a pyramid scheme, the BBPL allegedly forced victims to make more people targets of the scam. Those who paid up were denied refunds and the opportunity to exit. Bindra, described as a motivational speaker and a business coach, is still holding seminars.
Over the phone, BBPL officials told Bhalshankar that the company follows a no-questions asked refund policy in case someone wants to quit the programme.
“They advised me to buy a course worth Rs 80,000 instead of Rs 40,000 saying that you will get 33% commission on every purchase made through you and you will also get a fixed amount of money from your deposited Rs 80,000 on every sale,” she said.
She joined the IBC programme in January 2023 and after two months of “so-called training”, they informed her about Digital Marketing (DMT).
Under this DMT programme, either IBCs pay money to BBPL to get contact details of prospective customers or run advertisements of Vivek Bindra and BBPL videos on Facebook with their own money to lure people towards BBPL. “After getting contacts, we had to convince them to buy BBP products. But after knowing that it is a scam, I did not sell this to anyone. When I quit in April 2023 and asked for a refund they refused. I was already suffering physically and now I am in mental distress. My treatment has also stopped,” she said.
BBPL in its LinkedIn profile has said that it is an “ed-tech company that aims to empower Indian entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and wannapreneurs (students) to transform their businesses and careers”. The company headquartered in Delhi’s Okhla was founded in 2019.
CEO and founder of BBPL Vivek Bindra claims to be “an international motivational speaker”, “one of the world's greatest influencers” and “inspirational business coach”. He has 21.3 million subscribers on YouTube where he posts videos of his seminars and speeches. He also has 3.8 million followers on Instagram where he regularly posts motivational quotes but has disabled comment section.
The website of Bada Business claims that its courses’ pedagogy is adopted from Ivy League universities in the US. During the launch of its “diploma program in entrepreneurship -Billionaire’s Blueprint Programme: in May 2023, union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said, “A person acquires entrepreneurship skills after birth through such programmes. Vivek Bindraji has taken a big responsibility in his hands to promote entrepreneurship.”
During the launch of the “highly affordable one year entrepreneurship programme,” Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “This is an innovation to provide new-age education to empower and equip Indian entrepreneurs with practical skills and it will immensely help the MSME’s and Entrepreneurs in India which will enable our country become the next superpower.”
Despite the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) saying that it has “no policy to give (an) MBA Programme of 10 days”, BBPL is still offering “10-days MBA” for free.
BBPL’s IBC is the biggest hit among its list of courses from improving business skills to leadership skills. Lakhs of students, housewives and working professionals were allegedly “scammed” through this programme. On its website, BBPL says, “Become an IBC, learn and earn at your convenience.Earn Rs 1 lakh – Rs 20 lakh per month that too at a very low investment.”
The victims told Careers360 that they came to know about the IBC programme and Bada Business through sponsored (paid) Facebook advertisements. They came with online forms seeking personal information. After receiving information from online forms, enrolled IBCs call the prospective IBCs and lure them to be part of the programme while selling false dreams of earning upto Rs 20 lakh. The price of the IBC programme differed across the many victims Careers360 spoke to. There is no mention of any fee for any programme of BBPL on its website.
“I had filled out the online form shown in the Facebook advertisement. Later, I got a call from an IBC of BBPL who told me that I can earn upto Rs 5 lakh per month. First, I doubted the guy who had called me. But due to trust in Dr Vivek Bindra, because of his personality, I gave them Rs 40,120 online and became part of the IBC programme of BBPL on May 30, 2023,” said Dilip Singh of Dholpur, Rajasthan.
Singh is a BSc (agriculture) graduate from GLA University, Mathura. He quit his agriculture-related field job when he joined the IBC programme of BBPL, expecting to earn very high amounts quickly.
In the classic style of a pyramid scheme, the programme allegedly forces enrolled IBCs to bring new ones. The commission earned on these enrolments will go toward recovering the existing IBCs’ own investment and income. Instead of teaching skill sets, the BBPL officials trained them how to handle prospective clients of different backgrounds – housewives, young professionals, businessmen, students and others.
“In the name of learning, they used to hold daily 30-minute sessions named RITIMIS or “ritual in thirty minutes solitude”. In RITMIS, BBPL leaders used to teach us how to sell BBPL products effectively by handling prospective customers. Several BBPL officials including the general manager used to teach us how to talk with people of different backgrounds (students, young professionals, housewives, engineers etc) and convince them to purchase BBPL products,” Singh added.
BBPL officials ask enrolled IBCs to pay money for Digital Marketing (DMT) programmes to get leads and get commission for turning the lead into success.
“After three weeks of my enrollment, they asked me to pay Rs 6,000 for 100 “leads”, meaning contact details for 100 prospective customers who had raised queries about BBPL programmes on Facebook, Google and other platforms. They told me I had to contact them and if someone later becomes IBC, I get a commission of 33%. However, I could not turn any leads into success,” said Jayprakash Kumar, a polytechnic diploma holder from Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj. He was working at a mobile manufacturing firm before abandoning it for IBC in June, 2020.
BBPL officials train IBCs on how to handle every query and objections raised by customers by using heavy technical words and confusing people to force them to buy the programmes.
“BBPL has a strategy to send customised videos to different groups of people to manipulate. On their ‘One App’ for IBCs, they have a lot of videos of fake success stories to target people. They sent me videos of blind and disabled persons who in the video claim that they earned a huge amount of money from BBPL,” Bhalshankar said.
BBPL officials in their training also enable IBCs to create a sense of “fear of missing out” (FOMO) new customers.
“For example, while dealing with a working professional or graduate they ask us to say – “Even a class 12 pass student is earning a huge amount of money because it is in Hindi and it is very easy. You are an educated person. You will really do great in this business. Why are you leaving this opportunity? You will be left behind if you miss this programme and guidance by Bindra sir”. They boast about Vivek Bindra a lot,” Bhalshankar said. “If someone says he doesn't like to talk to people and convince them to buy the BBPL products, they say that person does not necessarily have to sell the products. They will be given the job of speaking to businessmen and organisations. If you are able to get any deal of Rs 1 crore, you will easily get Rs 50-60 lakh. They just manipulate you. They instilled in our minds that no Indian company other than Bada Business gives such a huge 33% commission on every sale.”
Singh had mortgaged his wife's jewellery to join IBC after quitting his job.
“My family members used to taunt me that I got scammed even after being a graduate. I was not even able to look them in the eye. Now, I am working with my maternal uncle to replace the jewellery,” he said.
Kumar met ‘senior’ IBCs on the online video conferencing platform, Zoom. “On Zoom call, they show senior IBC earning in crores and tell success stories of people to convince people to be part of the IBC programme. They convince us that we will start earning within three months by showing fake earning report cards of the new IBC,” said Kumar.
Kumar had to take a loan of Rs 65,000 to pay for an IBC programme worth Rs 95,000.
“I did not have the required money at that time and they told me to arrange Rs 30,000 and promised to make arrangements for getting a loan of Rs 65,000 from Phocket, a loan agency in New Delhi. In June 2021, when I found out it was a fraud, I asked for a refund but they told me that there is no refund policy. I am unable to pay EMI for repaying the loan and my credit score is worsening. I am in distress,” he said.
Mitali Kayal met a BBPL official in Delhi in 2019 when she was making and selling ledger, menu folders to restaurants. He lured her into buying a leadership funnel programme costing Rs 1,35,000.
“He told me that they will make me learn business leadership and entrepreneurship skills which can help me to grow my business multifold. They manipulated me into burying this by saying I will be left behind in the business world if I don’t learn required skills. I had taken money from my friends and relatives and when they started asking for their money back, I had to take a loan of Rs 1,50,000 from a bank to return the money. Later in desperation to get money back, I enrolled for the IBC programme by selling my jewellery worth Rs 40,000. I lost that money too,” she said.
Now, her husband has deserted her and she is raising her six year old daughter alone. “Whatever amount I am earning by making and selling menu and bill folders in Mumbai, I am spending it to repay the loan that I took from the bank. I lost Rs 1,75,000 to Bindra and am now repaying a loan of Rs 1,50,000 to the bank,” said Kayal.
Last year, Kayal sought a refund from BBPL. It wrote back: “Ms. Mitali Kayal, you made no such effort to make a sale and thus did not qualify to get any refund as having consumed the content provided in the educational program which is what you had paid for. You thus enjoyed the benefit of the program that you had purchased and cannot claim any refund for your own failure to apply the said knowledge to become a better salesperson or entrepreneur.”
Disclosure | The alleged victims written about here came into contact with Bada Business and IBCs 2020 onwards. However, they came into contact with Careers360 after its founder and CEO, Maheshwar Peri spoken up about the case on social media and other media platforms.
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