Maharashtra Police arrested two people on charges of cheating more than 1,400 people in an alleged $12-million (about 120 lakh) crypto scam, it was reported on Tuesday.
According to the crypto news portal CoinDesk, 24 people have come forward so far to lodge police complaints about the fraud, estimated to be between $6 million and $12 million.
The arrested persons were nabbed during raids in the Thane and Powai regions of Mumbai by the economic offences wing of Thane Police on August 10.
The report, citing investigators, claimed that the accused, Ritesh Dilip Kumar Sikligar, alias Pancha, and Mohan Patil, lured customers into the bogus crypto scheme from across the country.
Kumar is believed to be the mastermind in the scam. Meanwhile, both accused have been remanded to police custody for questioning.
As part of the modus operandi, the accused allegedly lured the victims by promising massive returns the more they invested in crypto tokens, SMP and Magic 3x, which are not listed on any exchange.
An investigator in Thane, requesting anonymity, also said on the phone that an entity named Shri Maa Kali Group of Companies used to redeem the purchased tokens. But the scam came to light after some investors didn't receive the money and lodged police complaints.
"In court, while securing custody, we stated that based on currently available information, the scam is worth 6 crore ($750,000), but we estimate the amount to be upwards of 50 crore and below 100 crore," CoinDesk quoted an unnamed police officer as saying. "Some discrepancies in the amount of money associated with each of the 1,400 or so investors have emerged," the officer added.
The victims who lodged the police complaints said they lost 4.4 million rupees in the scam. Police said the number of victims could rise as more people come forward to file their complaints.
"The culprits would lure customers promising rates of interest ranging from 0.05% to 1% per day depending on the amount invested," an investigating officer said. "If 24,000 rupees were invested, the rate of return was 0.05% per day with the promise that within 20 months that amount would triple to around 72,000 rupees."