Cryptocurrency-related crime has been surging over the past few years. These scams are happening all across the world - and developing nations become easier targets. India, one of the fastest growing economies of the recent few years, saw multiple such scams of late. As per latest reports from Indian publication The Times of India, police in the city of Pune have recovered 451.999 Bitcoins (Worth ~1.7 Million USD/12 Crore Indian Rupees) from scammers who were running a Ponzi scheme in the country.
The police had been working on this case since January 2018 - and multiple arrests had been made over the course of the year. The biggest breakthrough came when the mastermind behind this Ponzi scheme, Amit Bhardwaj was arrested and deported. This latest update from the Indian police informs that the Bitcoins that these scammers had swindled from the investors have now been recovered.
Amit Bhardwaj used to run a company called GainBitcoins, which promised its investors a minimum monthly return of 10% on their investments. This Ponzi cryptocurrency investment scheme was called ‘GB21’ and police records indicate that it has affected up to 8,000 investors.
Along with Amit Bhardwaj, nine other of his accomplices have also been arrested by Indian police. Bhardwaj’s brother Vivek has also been arrested as an accomplice to this crime. In addition to Amit and Vivek, Pune-based Akash Sancheti was also arrested in connection with this crime. The police have filed a chargesheet against them and all ten of these accused are awaiting trial in front of a Delhi court. Since his arrest, multiple members of the public have complained about the scammers and a Special Investigation Team had been formed to look into this matter.
According to Jyoti Priya Singh, the deputy commissioner of police (cyber), these Bitcoins were recovered by the police earlier this week. The recovery efforts were conducted by a team led by Senior Inspector Radhika Phadke. Singh further stated:
“The Bitcoins were seized from the e-wallet of Sahil Omprakash Bagla - a suspect from Delhi — after a digital forensic analysis of his account was done."
This is not the first recovery attempt at the scammed Bitcoins. In a previous attempt, the police had managed to recover 32 Bitcoins, 79.99 Ether, as well as cash worth 38 Lakh Indian Rupees. Back when Amit Bhardwaj was first arrested, he had denied all allegations against him. However, as digital forensics started off, the police discovered that he did hold a large number of cryptocurrencies which were scammed from the public. The police suspect there’s more that can still be recovered from Bhardwaj and other members of his gang.
This is one of the several cryptocurrency related cases in India. The country is also witnessing another major crypto-related case where major politicians, as well as members of the police force, are said to be involved. Earlier this year, an order from India’s apex banking authority, the Reserve Bank of India, prohibited all regulated financial institutions in the country to enter into a partnership with any individual or business dealing with cryptocurrencies - making it harder to purchase or trade cryptocurrencies in the country.
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