Cryptocurrency fraud is currently running rampant across several countries. India is one of the countries with the most common of such criminal activities, and law enforcement is now investigating yet another case.
Branching Out Into Fraud
Earlier this week, local news source Millennium Post reported that the Economic Offence Wing of the Delhi Police had launched a full-scale probe into Pluto Exchange, a local digital asset exchange platform, and its operators. Per the report, the investigation came after 43 investors filed a complaint against the firm.
The complaint alleged that Pluto Exchange’s founder, Bharat Verma, and several other company officials, had developed a fraudulent scheme that lured investors. The scheme was purportedly a trading and mining operation called “F2poolminin.” It ran as a subsidiary of the exchange.
One of the plaintiffs explained that he met the exchange operators first at the Connaught Place, a business and technology hub in New Delhi. They told him that he could invest in the scheme and make between 20 to 30 percent monthly. He added that they also offered him some extra commissions if he managed to bring more people into the fold.
The plaintiff eventually invested $6,500 with the scheme. When he didn’t get any returns for a while, he confronted Verma, who told him that the company had been unable to pay because some of its bank accounts had been frozen, and the Bitcoin price had dropped significantly.
Per the report, Pluto Exchange had left India and is now based in Dubai. However, they’re still running the scam and have ow collected about $6.8 million from investors.
India’s Extensive Crypto Crime Problem
The Pluto Exchange saga is currently the latest in a long line of fraudulent crypto operations seeking life in India. For now, perhaps the most popular scam form has been call center scams, which are targeting some high-income residents.
India TV News reported last month that cybercriminals are targeting these victims through messages on social media, encouraging them to buy Bitcoin through a mobile app. The app, which purportedly functions as a crypto exchange, is merely a sham. Once a user deposits Bitcoin into the exchange, the scammers block the person and disappear.
A witness told the news source that an unidentified victim lost $50,000 to the scheme, while another unnamed businessman lost at least $3 million.
The scammers have also targeted some top government officials. Earlier this month, India Today reported that hackers managed to break into the Twitter account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The hackers, known under the collective name “John Wick,” reportedly asked Modi’s followers to donate to “PM National Relief Fund for Covid-19,” a fake coronavirus relief fund.
Blockchain data shows that no funds were sent to the site, leading to the belief that the massive Twitter hack of July had made people much wider. However, this growth in fraudulent activities is alarming.
Sidharth Sogani, the founder and chief executive of blockchain and cryptocurrency research company Crebaco, told Cointelegraph last month that Indian investors lost about $500 million to scammers both home and abroad between 2017 and 2019. hings also can get much worse, as cryptocurrencies are growing in popularity across the country.