The twisted saga of Shailesh Bhatt takes some more intriguing turns as an elaborate network of politicians, kidnappers, law enforcement officers, and local authorities were listed as guilty. The bitconnect scam has surmounted to an estimated $3 billion all in Bitcoins.
The Shailesh Bhatt Saga
In February 2018, Bhatt, a builder from India’s merchant-dominant state of Gujarat filed a complaint of abduction and extortion with the home department of Gujarat. He alleged that police authorities from Amreli district kidnapped him and extorted 200 BTC, or $1.8 million.
However, while sorting out the inconsistencies of Bhatt’s account, Gujarat Criminal Investigation Department (CID) soon discovered that he is far from innocent. The leading officers believed they had stumbled upon a scam spanning over continents and involving a few hundred million. After a thorough investigation, Crime Branch filed a fresh FIR against Bhatt and nine of his accomplices in Surat on 20 May about kidnapping investors in connection with a Bitconnect investment scheme.
Subsequent arrests were made on the basis of Bhatt’s confession including Nalin Kotadiya, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lawmaking department. The list of accused facilitating the cryptocurrency scam includes prominent politicians and high-ranking police officers from Modi’s home state, creating a massive disruption just months before the Indian ruling party elections go into full swing.
The Blame Game
Both Kotadiya and Bhatt have managed to abscond while continuously playing the blame game among each other. Bhatt made appearances at local police stations to provide his account against Kotadiya. The latter returned by posting a video on YouTube in April 2018, claiming his innocence and naming Bhatt as the prime purveyor of the scam. The Video also has Kotadiya threatening to release damning evidence against Bhatt and several others, including notable politicians.
Though the roots of the scam are dug deep in Surat, Gujarat’s diamond-centric industrial city, its branches extend as far as Texas, U.S., and reportedly even involves local celebrities.
Read more: Indian Police Investigate Bitconnect’s Offer Giving an Annual Return of 365% on Bitcoin investment
The Bitconnect Scam
The scam initiated by asking investors to invest BTC in turn of Bitconnect pay-outs every month. This felt like a decent offer for those who missed the Bitcoin brigade as the quoted return figures were 40 percent of total investment. To acquire investor trust and to build legitimacy, Bhatt and his accomplices used celebrities and politicians as pawns in their evil game; trapping unsuspecting businessmen and wealthy individuals
All was good until Bhatt and another accomplice fought with two Bitconnect representatives in Surat and a demand of over 2,000 bitcoins was put forward as ransom. Further, Bhatt was double-crossed by the enterprising accomplice and Kotadiya, who is Bhatt’s uncle was involved to trap Bhatt and extort all of the illegally-gained hauls. Thus, bringing the whole game into the limelight and scam was discovered.
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