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Siddhivinayak Temple: Agents misusing online booking app to cheat devotees, doctor exposes scam

User reviews for the app in the Google Play Store echoed similar complaints. Many users have stated that all slots keep showing full while agents charge hundreds of rupees per person to 'sell' slots to visiting devotees.

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, scammers are finding different ways to rob the people of their hard-earned money. Such a scam has been exposed by Amit Thadhani, a doctor from Mumbai, Maharashtra, at Siddhivinayak Temple. In a tweet thread, Thadhani explained how scammers standing outside the temple are charging people as much as Rs.300 per person for darshan at the temple that was supposed to be free.

How does the scam work?

Siddhivinayak temple trust has recently launched a mobile app via which devotees can make a booking for darshan. The aim is to control the crowd to reduce the chances of Covid spread. If someone wants to do darshan, prior online booking is mandatory. He said, “Like all govt controlled temples, there’s a scam going on in online darshan too.”

Thadhani said he went to the temple with some relatives, where he was approached by a man who was standing outside one of the flower shops. The man told him that the darshan was only possible with prior online booking. He claimed he could get an online pass for them immediately for a fee.

Thadhani did not believe him at first, but when he downloaded the app and logged in with a newly created ID, it showed all slots were booked. The scammer told him that he could arrange darshan at Rs. 300 per person. They were a group of ten people. He further added that he would need five mobile phones to get the “booking” done for them as the app allowed only two people per phone.

He and the other four from the group gave them their mobile phones. The scammer, along with his sidekick, swung into action, and within minutes the booking was confirmed for all of them.

Thadhani had an idea how they were pulling off the scam. To confirm his theory, he kept the login of the person on his device. He added, “These people block all available slots in advance through various fake IDs. So no slots are available for genuine devotees.”

He added screenshots of the fake account in the thread and said, “This is the fake account through which the slot was blocked (obviously the person’s name isn’t really Siddhivinayak). So remember folks, if you’re not getting a slot for darshan at Siddhivinayak, chances are the local touts outside the temple have already blocked all of them.”

What OpIndia found so far

We downloaded the app and checked if there were any slots open for the day. The app showed that the slots were booked for December 1 and December 2. For December 3, the booking was not opened yet.

Screenshot showing no availability of slots

Interestingly, What Thadhani said in his thread was echoed in the reviews of the app as well. Many such reviews stated they came across scammers outside the temple who book the slots as soon as they are opened and charge the devotees for darshan.

Reviews of the Siddhivinayak app echo similar complaints. Source: Siddhivinayak app page on Google Play Store
Reviews of the Siddhivinayak app echo similar complaints. Source: Siddhivinayak app page on Google Play Store

OpIndia tried contacting the temple’s office over the phone, but no one was available at the time the report was published.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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