Indian Authorities Nab High-Profile Bitcoin Scammers

As India still remains uncertain regarding its regulatory framework for digital currency operations, a number of high-profile fraud cases involving Bitcoin have come to light. Police authorities from the Indian State of Chandigarh recently arrested Amit Bharadwaj for his role in a multicrore Bitcoin scam, reports local publication The Indian Express. 

According to the Chandigarh police, three investors have lodged a complaint against Amit for duping them of nearly 15 crores. Amit, his younger brother Vivek Bharadwaj, Pankaj Adhlakha, and Hemant Bhope have received arrest warrants from the Tihar jail and will be kept in the Chandigarh police’s custody for four days. The four accused are currently under the interrogation of India’s cyber crime cell.

The Plot to Trick Investors

An anonymous investor reveals details about how Amit and co. tricked them into this scheme. The accused set the plot by throwing lavish parties in popular cities across the country and luring investors from these place. Interested investors were also invited to attend the investor’s summit in Dubai and Macau, with Amit even booking yachts for several days.

Tickets to attend the summit were sent to all investors as all the expenses were taken care of by Amit’s three firms, Gain Bitcoin, GB Minors and GB 21. The anonymous investor also revealed that in addition to India, investors from China, Dubai, Mauritius, Vietnam, and other countries were present. The investor further disclosed that,

When we started raising our voice for not getting the profit on our invested money in Bitcoin during the summits, Amit and his younger brother Aditya Bhardwaj assured us that our money would be returned but all in vain.

The Plot to Trick Investors

Cyber Crime Cell Reveals Internal Details of the Case

During the ongoing interrogation into this case, Cybercrime cell DSP Rashmi Yadav Sharma said that authorities had recorded statements of 16 investors who have purchased 180 Bitcoins in total from Amit Bharadwaj. However, the price paid by different investors to buy a Bitcoin 00 varies considerably. One investor reportedly got a Bitcoin for 40,000 INR, while another paid 1 Lac INR for the same.

However, one common thing promised to all the investors was that they would be getting 10 percent returns on their total investments for the period of next 18 months. One of the accused — Pankaj Adhlakha — is a motivator who encouraged and inspired the investors to put their money into Bitcoin. Initially, some of the investors also started getting some returns, which gave them false assurance that their money was safe.

Internal sources say that during the interrogation, Amit has agreed to return two investors their invested principal amount in INR. However, he did so while refusing to give the return at the current Bitcoin 00 rate — nearly 2 lac INR.

Bitcoin-related scams have been increasing recently in India. Last week, the Indian police also arrested Bitconnect kingpin and promoter, Divyesh Darji, in a high-profile Bitcoin scam worth $12.6 billion.

Is it time for the Indian government to introduce regulatory measures to avoid such scams? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Images Courtesy of bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock.

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Written by Bhushan Akolkar @ August 27, 2018 Bhushan Akolkar

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