In an important development in the fake influencer scam case being probed by the Mumbai police, today the police recorded the statement of Sagar Gokhale, the chief operating officer of digital marketing company Qyuki, the company that had provided fake views for the videos of singer Badshah. Sagar Gokhale is the husband of journalist Faye D’Souza.
Last week, rapper Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia alias Badshah was questioned in connection with the fake views and likes scam, where he had confessed that he had paid Rs 75 lakh to the company Qyuki to buy fake views for the video of his song Pagal Hai on YouTube. He had bought the views in order to set a world record for most YouTube views in the first 24 hours. The singer had claimed that the music video for ‘Pagal Hai’ had been watched 75 million times in the first day of its release, beating other previous records.
After the revelation by the singer, the police had questioned Sagar Gokhale, the COO of the company. But during the questioning, he expressed ignorance about the case, and blamed his dead colleague for the same. He said that he is not much aware of the company’s affairs, and the company’s co-founder and managing director Samir Bangara knew more about the functioning of the company. It may be noted that Bangara died in a bike accident in June this year.
Gokhale also said that the CFO and video network manager of the company would know more about the case related to the video of Badshah. Following his statement, the police have issued summoned for them.
The Mumbai police had recovered an invoice from Badshah, showing that an amount of Rs 75 lakh was paid to Qyuki. While the invoice shows the payment was made for advertising, the police say it was paid for inflation in number of views and not for advertising.
According to the company data of Qyuki, Sagar Gokhale is one of the three directors in the company. He is also a director in five other companies. In one of those companies, Freemedia Interactive Private Limited with two directors, his wife Faye D’Souza is the other director.
The fake views and likes case was busted after two celebrities had complained that fake accounts were created in their names on social media. The complaints were filed by singer Bhoomi Trivedi and other by actor Koena Mitra. Following this, the police had found that accounts were created by some companies to provide fake followers, likes, comments and other social media related services. During the subsequent probe, the Mumbai police had unearthed more than 50 companies that were involved in selling social media followers, likes and comments.