Shirdi Saibaba Temple Trust Raises Online Fraud Alarm

Ahmednagar (Maharashtra): The famed Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST), Shirdi has detected an online fraud of soliciting illegal donations from devotees in the name of Saibaba, an official said here on Monday.

Last weekend, the SSST authorities received complaints that some unknown persons were allegedly posing as the temple representatives and asking for donations via social media, providing bank details and other things, said the trust’s CEO Kanhuraj Bagate.

“We got the information from some messages on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media groups with demands for donations from the general public for pooja, aarti, Prasad, etc. We have conducted preliminary enquiries and found they were all fraudulent persons,” an SSST spokesperson Eknath Gondkar told IANS.

Taking strong note of the development, the SSST CEO pointed out that in view of the Covid-19 lockdown, the Shri Saibaba Samadhi Temple has been shut for all devotees since April 5.

“Yet, under these circumstances, fictitious and an anonymous organization in Shirdi known as Shri Saibaba Sewabhavi Sansthan, Shirdi, is found to be demanding online donations on account of Thursday Annadaan for devotees through online, PayTM and Google Pay type of payments,” Bagate said.

He categorically stated that the SSST is no way connected with the activities or Annadaan by the other organization, or not linked with the online donations via PayTM, GooglePay, etc, being sought in the name of Shri Saibaba.

Bagate added that the SSST is a historically well-known religious destination, with lakhs of devotees of Shri Saibaba coming there for ‘darshan’ annually from India and abroad and the crowds are much more on special occasions.

“Taking undue advantage, some fraudulent organisations are using identical or synonymous names and indulging in cheating of devotees through their website, Facebook pages or social media accounts to collect donations in cash, online or in kind,” Bagate cautioned.

Gondkar said that after making more enquiries, the SSST would consider lodging a formal police complaint to ensure the culprits behind the purported scam are identified and booked.

Meanwhile, the SSST has issued a public appeal warning the people on these frauds and advised them to contact the Trust authorities only through their official websites or email before responding to any such calls for donations.

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