Ringing Bells founder Mohit Goel has been arrested earlier this week in Uttar Pradesh, India, on allegations of fraud after the company failed to issue a refund for an unfulfilled order requested by a handset dealer. Uttar Pradesh police spokesperson Rahul Srivastav revealed that Mohit Goel will be produced in court later today, Friday, February 24.
Readers who may be familiar with Ringing Bells might recall that the company launched a $4 smartphone in India last year, called the Freedom 251, named after its price tag in Rupees. Although the Freedom 251 was far from a powerful or high-quality smartphone, it was still accompanied by an extremely low price tag even for an emerging market, so much so that the launch of the device raised lots of skepticism from consumers and regulatory agencies alike. Nevertheless, the smartphone was released last year for the price of 251 Indian Rupees, but as it turns out the company doesn’t seem to have been able and meet the demand. In light of recent events, the company failed to honor a handset dealer’s order worth 3 million Indian Rupees ($45,031), who claims that Ringing Bells shipped only a fraction of the order. Reportedly, some of the smartphones shipped by Ringing Bells to the aforementioned dealer were defective, and in overall, the dealer claims to have received only 1.4 million Rupees in Freedom 251 smartphones and cash. The story takes an odd turn when the dealer asked Ringing Bells for a refund, as the company’s founder Mohit Goel along with another Ringing Bells executive reportedly issued death threats to the dealer and his family. Mohit Goel was arrested on account of fraud and will be produced in court later today.
The $4 Freedom 251 was announced at the beginning of 2016 and was released later in June the same year. It was equipped with a 4-inch LCD display with a resolution of 960 x 540, a quad-core processor clocked at 1.3 GHz, and 1 GB of RAM. The device received over 70 million registrations in just three days, but its time in the spotlight was short-lived. The official Ringing Bells website was reportedly shut down near the end of 2016, and Mohit Goel along with a couple of executives reportedly founded a new company in New Delhi called MDM Electronics.