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Kolkata: A Kolkata based private tour operating firm has downed its shutters after allegedly duping tourists as much as Rs 47-lakh.

Those duped are not only from Kolkata but are spread over several Indian cities. As regards other cities, police have so far received a specific complaint from Bangalore.

The accused firm, Skylark Travels, has its head office at 43 Jheel Road at Jadavpur’s Palbazaar, locality and has a branch office at Behrampore in Murshidabad.

It was in operation since 2016 but ever since the Durga Puja in October both the offices are under lock and key. All the seven phone numbers listed on its suave website are also switched off.

Around 15 people in Kolkata have so far lodged FIRs against the firm’s lead face Rupayan Gupta at Garfa police station. The advance that the firm collected from these unrelated people for domestic and international tours is around Rs 13-lakh.

Another group of 50 tourists from Bangalore has lodged an online FIR at Lalbazar saying that Skylark Travels collected Rs 35-lakh from them for an international packaged tour.

Kolkata Police suspect that while complaints about Rs 47-lakh cheating have reached them so far, the amount and extent of this cheating could touch even one crore rupees.

Most people fell for the firm after visiting its suave website where domestic and international tour packages are listed at a competitive price. Moreover, when people visited its head office at Jadavpur, they were carried away by its swanky look and smart gesture of the employees.

Thus, they did not hesitate to pay an advance that ranged between a few thousand rupees to a few lakhs of rupees. As the word of mouth spread, people in other cities having relatives or friends in Kolkata also fell for it.

People got suspicious after the firm missed the deadline on sending by e-mail journey tickets and accommodation booking receipts. They started dialling the phone number but found all switched off and then a physical visit to the Jadavpur office revealed that it has been lying shut from immediately before Durga Puja.

This made those duped to go to Garfa police station last Sunday (18 November) and lodge FIRs. Police have said that they were trying to track down Gupta but have had no luck so far.

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