The police in Maharashtra’s Thane district on Monday busted an online cryptocurrency racket, in which a gang allegedly duped several investors of nearly Rs 500 crore, PTI reported. The police also arrested one person, but the scam’s kingpin – Amit Lakhanpal – is absconding.
The accused had formed a real estate company, The Flinstone Group, and launched their own cryptocurrency called the Money Trade Coin. The company promised its investors flats and citizenship in African and Caribbean countries, the Hindustan Times reported. They told the investors that the cryptocurrency would become legal tender in those countries in a few years.
The company had lured its investors promising returns worth 10 to 20 times the investment in just four to six months, a police official said. “Primary probe revealed that the company initially marketed hard to spread the word about MTC and once people fell in the trap, the Lakhanpal-led group floated several schemes,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhishek Trimukhe told The Times of India. “Those who invested in the schemes were told to get more investors. This way, several people were lured to invest and later, when they asked about the interest, the company gave evasive answers.”
The Thane police on Monday raided the company’s premises on Ghodbunder Road in Thane and suburban Vikhroli in Mumbai based on a complaint filed by a New Delhi-based businessman. The police also seized 53 laptops, rubber stamps and fabricated documents during the raids.
The police have registered a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, including for cheating, criminal breach of trust, forgery.
The central government and the Reserve Bank of India had earlier warned users against using virtual currencies. The government even compared them to ponzi schemes and warned traders of the risks, including “permanent loss of money”.