Mani Niraula, an education consultancy owner charged with swindling over Rs 11 million from at least 13 people aspiring to go to Australia, has surrendered to the police.

Niraula, operator of Queensland Education Foundation at Putalisadak, was collecting a sum ranging from Rs 500,000 to Rs 2.4 million from each youngster aspiring to go to Australia on dependent or tourist visa for the last two years.

“Niraula was collecting money from us by showing the picture of a girl named Rejina Hamal of Nepalgunj, who has obtained a visa to study in Australia,” said Amrit Raj Giri, 22, of Bhulvu Rural Municipality, Kavre, who has paid Rs 1.6 million to Niraula to apply for dependant visa to migrate to Australia. Giri was told he would have to perform “fake marriage” with Hamal to apply for dependent visa and file for a divorce upon reaching Australia.

At least three other people, who have given a total of Rs 2.6 million to Niraula, told THT that they were also shown the picture of the same girl and told the same thing about “fake marriage”. These three youngsters, as well as Giri, had handed over the money after communicating with Hamal on social media. “But I lost touch with Niraula and Hamal after handing over the money,” said Giri. Hamal could not be contacted.

At least 20 people, mostly youngsters accompanied by their parents, who were duped by Niraula, had gathered at Metropolitan Police Circle, Singha Durbar, today, seeking help to get their money back. Niraula is said to have duped up to 40 people mostly below the age of 25.

Niraula is also found to have used the picture of a boy to dupe girls aspiring to go to Australia. “I was shown a picture of a boy who I was told was a permanent resident of Australia,” a 20-something from Kanchanpur told THT on condition of anonymity. She had handed over Rs 500,000 to Niraula.

Niraula used to issue a cheque of the same amount that his clients deposited at his office

to “win the confidence and substantiate he was not involved in unethical business”, according to victims. But victims who were duped by Niraula could not encash those cheques, as they were dud.

Around 13 of Niraula’s clients have submitted an FIR at Metropolitan Police Circle, Singha Durbar, seeking his arrest but the police are yet to register the FIR.

“The FIR lacks certain details like full address of the accused and evidence of fraud,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Kaushal Budhathoki, who heads the police circle at Singha Durbar, said.

Budhathoki said police had rounded up Niraula after he sought security by dialling 100. The Education Consultancy Association Nepal, the umbrella body of education consultancies in Nepal, has scrapped the membership of Niraula’s firm.

source: The Himalayan Times

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