Friday, Aug 19, 2022

'Buy 15 Bitcoins, Get 27 In 18 Months': More Victims Pop Up In Rs 2,000 Crore Scam

Hundreds of investors across India have alleged that they were defrauded over 2000 cr in almost similar schemes launched from 2014 onwards.

Bitcoin scam gets bigger PTI/File Photo

The Economic Offence Wing of Delhi Police has lodged one more FIR on July 22 in a Rs 2,000 crore cryptocurrency investment fraud unearthed for the first time in 2018.

The latest FIR was lodged when the victims, a medical practitioner, and his relatives, approached the Patiala Court and got an order issued to the Delhi Police for the same. The police initially didn’t pay any heed to their complaints.

Filed through his lawyer Sunil Kumar, the FIR has alleged that two persons Nirmal Jain and Amit Bhardwaj allured them to invest in a lucrative scheme, Bitcoin Mining Investment Scheme.

Under the scheme, they were asked to purchase 15 Bitcoins through a banking channel which would become almost double, ie, 27 in 18 months. The medical practitioner, his daughter and his son invested about 37 lakhs and bought 45 Bitcoins in March 2017 hoping that in 18 months, he would get 81.

But instead of earning the promised return, they lost their investment too. Kumar has also alleged that when his clients asked for the returns, they were threatened with dire consequences.   

Before Kumar’s clients, hundreds of investors lodged criminal cases of fraud and cheating from 2018 onwards against Bhardwaj, his family members and other associates in Delhi, Pune and other parts of the country. All these investors have alleged that they were defrauded over 2000 cr in almost similar schemes launched from 2014 onwards.

However, by late 2017, investors started realising that they were duped in a fraudulent scheme and Bhardwaj got a wind of it and left the country. But during a trip back home, the police got a tip-off and arrested him in April 2018 from the airport.

Officers close to the investigation say that it is a multi-layered scam that involved a trail of money from India to Singapore and Dubai to possibly other destinations which they are still probing.

The Enforcement Directorate also started its probe in 2018 for money laundering as investors’ deposits were siphoned off elsewhere.

Kumar, on behalf of his client, and other investors have alleged how their money was transferred from the company’s account in Delhi to abroad.

For instance, Kumar in his FIR alleged that the money that his client had invested in VSK Enterprises (India) Pvt Ltd was clandestinely transferred to other companies such as Gain Bitcoin and Vriabletech in Singapore and Dubai.

Investors say that Bhardwaj and his associates had gained their confidence by giving an impression that they were into the business of mining virtual currencies and they could the same for their clients.   

“Bhardwaj was arrested on April 5, 2018, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport while returning from Bangkok and at present, he is on bail granted by the Supreme Court on health grounds,” Divyangana, Bhardwaj’s lawyer in the SC, said.

However, one of the victims has filed an application in the SC and alleged that Bhardwaj misused bail conditions by threatening and intimidating investors of dire consequences.

Now the apex court is hearing whether the bail condition should be cancelled or not.  

“When multiple FIRs were filed in several states, we approached the Supreme Court from exemption from personal appearance and that’s how the matter reached the Supreme Court. Later we filed a bail petition also,” She said.

She added, "There are 21 known FIRs and we believe there might be some more which we are not aware of. The number of total victims is over 100 and the total amount involved is over 2000 cr."