- Law enforcement authorities in India managed to apprehend the key figures responsible for orchestrating a multi-million dollar fraudulent venture that exploited the cryptocurrency space.
- The extent of the deception is staggering, as reports suggest that this scheme managed to amass a staggering Rs 1,000 crore (equivalent to 10 billion rupees or approximately $120 million) from unsuspecting victims.
The Indian Express reported a significant breakthrough in the ongoing battle against cryptocurrency-related Ponzi schemes in India on August 8th. Law enforcement authorities managed to apprehend the key figures responsible for orchestrating a multi-million dollar fraudulent venture that exploited the cryptocurrency space. The scam, centered around a cryptocurrency initiative named STA Crypto Token, claimed to combine cutting-edge solar technologies with the power of blockchain.
The extent of the deception is staggering, as reports suggest that this scheme managed to amass a staggering Rs 1,000 crore (equivalent to 10 billion rupees or approximately $120 million) from unsuspecting victims. This widespread scam targeted a vast pool of individuals, numbering around 200,000. Among these were 10,000 residents of Odisha, a state in India. The fact that so many individuals fell prey to this scheme underscores the pervasive nature of the fraud and its ability to ensnare even those with a basic understanding of cryptocurrencies.
The successful arrests were carried out by the Economic Offence Wing of the Odisha police. The key individuals apprehended are Gurtej Singh Sidhu, who was at the helm of the fraudulent project, and his associate Nirod Das. Sidhu, who managed to evade arrest for some time by continually changing locations, was finally caught. Jai Narayan Pankaj, the Inspector-General of the Economic Offense Wing, highlighted the concerted efforts that law enforcement had undertaken to track down Sidhu, emphasizing the pursuit spanning several days.
Crypto scam unearthed in India
Upon investigation, police unveiled a disturbing trail of transactions amounting to more than Rs 30 crore (equivalent to 300 million rupees or approximately $3.6 million) in Das’s bank account. These funds were intricately linked to the fraudulent activities associated with STA Token.
What’s particularly concerning is that this cryptocurrency scam operated across multiple regions within India, leveraging its fraudulent nature to target individuals from various districts. It’s important to note that the scam operated without official approval from the Reserve Bank of India or any other regulatory authorities.
By capitalizing on buzzwords and promoting eco-friendly promises, the fraudsters concealed the true nature of their operation, masking it behind the façade of a legitimate venture. Police underscored the sophistication of this operation, highlighting the elaborate promotional strategies employed by the scam’s leaders. These strategies included hosting lavish events such as luncheons and dinners at upscale hotels, complete with guest speakers and musical performances.
Although the project’s website was hosted in Iceland, it’s crucial to emphasize that the scam was exclusively operational within India. This serves as a reminder that despite the global nature of cryptocurrencies, scams can be localized and specifically targeted at certain regions.
Regrettably, this cryptocurrency scam is not an isolated incident in India. Earlier in the year, authorities took action against a project called HPZ token, seizing nearly $12 million associated with the venture. Additionally, other crypto-related frauds have come to light, including those linked to entities like Morris coin, GainBitcoin, and a Karnataka-based scam.
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