That sketchy-as-hell $4 smartphone maker is under police investigation for the Freedom 251

by: John DyeMarch 28, 2016
1.6K
Photo by Gadgets 360

Photo by Gadgets 360

Back in February, Indian smartphone maker Ringing Bells nearly broke the internet when they opened up pre-orders for their $3.64 Lollipop-running handset. However, it turned out that these devices, called the Freedom 251, were actually not-so-cleverly disguised Adcom Ikon 4 smartphones with honest-to-God Wite-Out covering up the branding. This raised some pretty interesting questions, considering the Ikon 4 is a Chinese device with a $54 price tag. Now Ringing Bells is under official police investigation.

Freedom-251-Front-newSee also: The $4 smartphone Freedom 251 will run Lollipop (update)44

The alleged offenses the company is being investigated for fall under Section 420 of IPC and the IT Act, which is to say, cheating. Competitors attest that it’s impossible to manufacture a smartphone at the ridiculously low price the Freedom 251 is selling for. Although Adcom doesn’t appear to have made any legal moves in the matter yet, the Chinese smartphone maker reported that they were unaware that their brand and products were being used in this way and that they were looking into the matter.

Photo by Vishal Mathur

Photo by Vishal Mathur

Named in the First Information Report filed by police are Ringing Bells owner Mohit Goel and company president Ashok Chadda. Police have asked the company to submit documents that demonstrate how their devices can be sold at such low prices without violating the law. Ringing Bells says they are ready to cooperate with police and are taking the stance that they have nothing to hide.

Photo by Gadgets 360See also: That $4 smartphone is sketchy as hell215

“I do maintain that we will deliver the most-affordable quality products to our customers through our various range of smartphones, including the Freedom 251,” said Goel in a statement. He then went on to explain (in a very unexplaining way) that the Freedom 251 can be priced under $4 due to “innovative e-commerce cross promotions.” He also reassured those who pre-ordered the device that deliveries will be completed as promised by June 30, 2016.

What do you think of the Freedom 251 and its brief but already-checkered history? What’s the real story behind this device? Let us know your best theory in the comments below, and as always, stay tuned to Android Authority for all the latest mobile reporting.

Moto G4 Plus -9Next: Best cheap Android phones (March 2016)434
  • Sayed ahamed

    Exactly! Too good to be true but alas there are people who believed this BS phone fraud

    • fukovzonavabich

      doesnt help that every tech website posted about it, adding to its “credibility”.

      • Toukale

        That’s today’s journalists (bloggers) for you and their clone reporting. No one cares to check anything these days before they post. To top it off they have the nerve to complain about folks using ad-blocking. If they are going to ask users to put up with all those crappy ads, you think they would put a little efforts into it.

        • fukovzonavabich

          couldn’t agree more.

        • moew

          Bloggers are not accredited media. Shame on you.

  • SaRPeR

    Someone just wanted to make money without doing anything and they came up with that idea. After taking as much money as they can, they will escape to another country.

  • Dimitrisk7

    just a fraud

  • 1213 1213

    This is probably the dodgiest thing to do with smartphones in the 21st century.

    • A miserable pile of secrets

      Not as long as Apple exists.

  • Fearing competition OnePlus, which is itself a subsidiary of Oppo, created Ringing Bells in an attempt to create, yet again, the cheapest smartphone ever.

    • Vasudev Dubey

      not quite sure that’s true..

  • Mike Connors

    The way i see it is they did one of 3 things:
    -as mentioned below, people sent money and they will run with it (illegal)
    -the cross promo reference in the article (if true) is probably something along the lines of “sign up and we will give you this phone free” (or something simular) and the company did this millions of times and is selling the phones for $4 (all profit to them) (unethical and prob illegal)
    -or they are partnered with a shady carrier they havent mentioned who will refund the cost of the phone to them if the customers sign up for the carrier (again $4 is all profit) (legal)

    • Vasudev Dubey

      the first point seems dumb since the money of the potential customers is in an escrow account with a Third Party (PayTM I think)
      third point could be true since another carrier by the name of Reliance tried to sell CDMA enabled feature phones at 8 USD 5 years ago..their rates were on par with other prepaid customers tho

    • FQ2

      First point is my guess. That or the phone is just a chunk of adware.

  • Pamela

    I think someone robbed the adcom truck.

    • Patrick

      That’s my thoughts

  • Daggett Beaver

    “innovative e-commerce cross promotions” — It might turn out to be legal. Maybe the phone is set up to pop up ads, and those sponsors are the ones who are ending up subsidizing the cost of the phones. I don’t care. I don’t want one. The shady thing is the white-out.

  • paw

    really… a Chinese company looking into the matter… wow… like China smartphones are the original ones.

    • Guest123

      Show me a non-chinese company that makes crappy phones for them to copy and i’ll give this to you lol

  • DeadC4t

    Use this a burner phone.

    • ASYOUTHIA

      I’ll pay the extra $5 and get a tracfone burner. Less shady

  • dvdlgh

    Whiteout, friggen LOL

  • The-Sailor-Man

    Each time you open the lock screen, need to watch 1min. advertising = legal

  • TheOracle

    I don’t really care. But anyone who thinks they’re going to get a “smartphone” from India for less than the Apple equivalent in the coffee business known as Starbucks is delusional. It would be like buying a Trabant. It’s a car (or phone in this case) but not as you know it.

  • s2weden2000

    That’s right!

  • Brandon James Starcevic

    Someone’s phones didn’t sell and instead of scrapping them, someone is selling them.

    • Robert Clark

      Yup. And I’m sure a deal with software ads built in are part of the deal…so..

  • Andre Laurin

    I hope they like prison food :)

    • Your mother

      And Bubba’s dick :)

  • Brodie Yg

    Clearly a scam, there clearly branded adcom phones not fredom phones, they probably had an insider steal a pallet of phones to help make the scam look more real. Why not just import a phone from Australia our smart phones start at $14.99 then $29.99.

  • They are taking pre orders.
    So that means they will get the money in advance. That money will be stored in the bank and interest will be generated. The interest amount itself will be huge.
    Then on June 30, they will say we cannot produce so much phones and we are refunding people’s money.
    In the end after refunding people’s money, they still got to keep the interest earned during these 5-6 months.
    Pretty clever tactics.

    • Kazuma

      They did not accept any payments. Orders were place in cash on delivery.

      • Initially there was no cash on delivery option (only internet payment).
        They later added the cod option.

  • Namakabrood Abrood

    If you can rip off millions of Indians for a pre order of $4 each and move to Switzerland,

  • Megan

    I think the company made a payment to the drug dealer with his phone company products….

  • Spencer Rhodes

    They may be stolen. More likely they purchased them in a bulk deal, and loaded them full of adware/malware. They’re selling them way below cost because they’re planning to use them to scam a lot of money off of the buyers in the future. Or they already took payment from a third party in exchange for embedding the adware/malware into the phones. That would be the ‘innovative e-commerce cross promotion’.

    • lolwut

      nobody with information worth stealing purchases a $4 phone as anything other than a novelty

  • abn

    Somebody’s going to the booty house.

  • Ronald Dockery

    Can’t make sense of it. Mostly because, why would they choose $4 add their price point?

  • staylow

    For $4.25 they could have put a decal over the original branding… a little more presentable than whiteout lol. These phones were probably bought in bulk from a failed Chinese effort, load it with tons of “promotional” bloat and offload. Probably legal, maybe not ethical, but I doubt those willing to use a shady 4 dollar phone care about such things. Suggestions to the Indians buying this phone, save a few months worth of your paychecks and buy a $50 Windows or Android phone.

    • Kirk shelton

      Verizon already does this but I have to pay full price for my phone. Sadfaceemoji

  • xavier savoie

    They bought these phones with money from the Indian phone scammers

  • Critic4U

    I honestly don’t know why people were complaining, you got a working phone for $4 bucks, if your just going to complain about it that it’s not new then oh well I guess. Maybe that was their thoughts in the beginning probably thought who is gonna care, however they should of put the correct specs and pictures of what they were getting, I would of looked at it this was I got a $54 phone for $4…

    • lolwut

      I honestly don’t know why you’re complaining. You got a working sirloin steak for $4. I mean it was tainted with viruses that put you in danger, and it was possibly stolen then not refrigerated for a month. If you’re going to complain that it’s not new sirloin steak then oh well I guess. Maybe they thought who is going to care right? BUT HEY STEAK FOR $4 WHY ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT THE FOODBORNE ILLNESS BRO? You should look at this as you got a $54 steak for $4.

      • Critic4U

        wow your an idiot for using an analogy like that, I can tell you just didn’t get the point at all… But by all means go ahead and act like a fool for writing something only an idiot would say…

  • Ben Mackay

    Phones as devices cost pence to produce, even apple products, so if these went unsold they’re simply being sold at much more realistic per unit cost. Normal prices include development and advertising costs on top of a silly profit margin, more power to them

  • Robert Clark

    You can ad software or apps from 3rd party to post ads to make more money …possibly a dropped sellout of phones purchased and rightly resold especially in that volume unless the adcom company is still selling them and really did not dump them all for a lump sum …

  • chistine lane

    jesus fuck people cant just stand the end of the age of overpriced smart phones, can they?