In a groundbreaking development that has sent shockwaves through the nation and the crypto community, India’s relentless pursuit of justice in the $300 million crypto scam has led to the arrest of eight individuals. The arrest has unraveled a web of deceit that reaches deep into the heart of India’s financial system.
Among the apprehended, a startling revelation emerged—four of them were rogue cops entrusted with upholding the law, now accused of being key players in the elaborate crypto fraud scheme that has left investors reeling.
Indian police have apprehended an additional eight individuals in relation to the extensive illegal crypto operation that originated in 2018. This fraudulent scheme, which victimized more than 100,000 individuals, resulted in an astounding $300 million (2500 crore Indian rupees) in losses. Consequently, the total number of arrests has now reached 18.
Four out of the total of eight individuals who were apprehended are members of the law enforcement profession in India. According to the findings of a Special Investigation Team (SIT), around 5,000 government employees and around 1,000 police personnel have fallen victim to this scam.
The fraudulent scheme, centered on a regional digital currency known as Korvio Coin (KRO coins), was uncovered in late September. However, inquiries suggest that its inception may date back as far as 2018.
How did the crypto scam go down? Fraudsters targeted unsuspecting victims through deceptive websites, offering investment opportunities such as Korvio Coin and later expanding to include other cryptocurrencies.
The local police received a total of 56 complaints regarding the crypto fraud spanning from 2021 to 2023. Subsequently, other agencies, such as the Enforcement Directorate, joined forces with regional police units to initiate a comprehensive investigation under the supervision of the SIT.
In late October, hundreds of investigations were conducted, which yielded the recovery of approximately 250,000 identification cards associated with suspects. Investigations indicate that over 100 people each earned $240,000 from the fraud, while an additional two hundred earned approximately $120,000.
Crypto scams put India’s Government on regulatory alert
Although 18 individuals have been apprehended thus far, the purported orchestrator of the crypto scam, Subhash Sharma, is still evading capture. Authorities, however, have discovered and confiscated numerous assets associated with Sharma.
In addition, the Enforcement Directorate is conducting an investigation into the actions of five women who are believed to have served as agents or promoters for Sharma.
Mukesh Agnihotri, the Deputy Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, has informed the public that more arrests can be expected as the investigation continues and the police have acquired the roster of persons who had made investments in the program.
Despite the industry’s best efforts to position itself as a credible digital ecosystem capable of powering the world’s financial system, scams are rampant. Crypto frauds cost victims over $32 million in October 2023 alone.
Canadians in Calgary lost $22.5 million to scammers, while Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, assisted Thai authorities in freezing $277 million in illicit proceeds.
To date, the largest crypto frauds have included OneCoin’s $25 billion operation, BitConnect’s $4 billion scam, and the Bitclub Network scheme, in which victims lost over $700 million.