Amit Bhardwaj, the arrested Ponzi scheme kingpin accused of scamming thousands by promising outlandish returns on investments in Bitcoins, has offered to pay back investors their initial investments in Indian rupees even as one of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Zebpay, has been roped in to help with the investigation.
According to the police, Bhardwaj had set up the online multi-level marketing company through which he allegedly lured investors by promising them handsome returns. He would allegedly promise 10 percent returns for investing one bitcoin but did not keep his word.
People were motivated by some agents to invest in bitcoins through Bhardwaj and once they invested with his company, he duped them, police said. He was also reportedly behind other BTC ventures like GBMiners, MCAP and GB21.
Around 8,000 investors are said to have lost around Rs 2,000 crore to the scam, purportedly the largest in India involving cryptocurrencies, allegedly run as a multi-level marketing scheme by Amit Bhardwaj, the founder of bitcoin-based investment website GainBitcoin.
One of the victims of the Bitcoin ponzi scam commented, “
We want the returns in (today’s) cryptocurrency value and not the value of the cryptocurrency when we invested. Today, the Bitcoin price is much higher than what it was when we invested. It is like Bhardwaj will keep the profits and just return the principal amount which is wrong.”
According to investigating officers, cryptocurrency exchange Zebpay was called in to help with the investigation as a large volume of the transactions between the victims and Bhardwaj took place via its platform. Inspector Jayram Paygude of the Pune Cyber Crime Cell said in a statement.
“Zebpay is the platform through which investment and sale of bitcoins were done in this case, which is why they were called for an enquiry,”
Curiously, Bhardwaj has offered to repay investors their initial bitcoin investments with their corresponding value Indian rupees. His victims are understandably opposed to the move, demanding their dues in today’s market value of their original bitcoins. “Today, the Bitcoin price is much higher than what it was when we invested,” an anonymous victim was quoted as stating. “It is like Bhardwaj will keep the profits and just return the principal amount which is wrong.”
The politicians of India became infuriated at the procrastination of the police to get hold of the other criminals involved in the scam. The issue was even raised a week back at the assembly session by Hemant Takle, a member of Nationalist Congress Party. At the assembly, he stated,
“It should be noted that offenses have been registered in Vashi police station, Nigdi police station, Nanded airport police station, and Khadakpada police station, the main accused have been taken into custody, but there hasn’t been recovery of any bitcoins in these cases.”
The news reports suggested that Shilpa Shetty, a prominent Bollywood actress and her husband, Raj Kundra have also been summoned by the enforcement Directorate. These personalities may have had links with the case, and hence, they have been summoned for investigation.
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