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Himachal Pradesh: SIT makes 7 more arrests in cryptocurrency fraud case

Shimla: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the multi-crore cryptocurrency fraud case in Himachal Pradesh has arrested seven more persons for their involvement in luring unsuspecting victims with fake investment plans, police said on Tuesday.

All accused played distinct roles in the fraud – from managing back-end office activities and databases, coordinating communications, providing technological support, managing financial transactions and handling inflow and outflow of funds, a statement issued here by the police headquarters said.

The accused have been remanded to police custody for ten days. The investigations are now focused on gathering evidence, and tracing the financial trail to bring all those involved in the scam to justice, the statement said. The police have so far not shared the names and details of the seven persons arrested.

The scam started in 2018 when the fraudsters approached people with an investment plan related to a locally made (in Mandi district) cryptocurrency known as ‘Korvio Coin’ or KRO coins.

The scammers lured innocent people by promising handsome returns in a short span of time and built a network of investors. Three to four kinds of cryptocurrency were used and false websites in which the cryptocurrency prices were manipulated and inflated were created.

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through a computer network that is not dependent on any central authority, such as the government or bank to uphold or maintain it.

The SIT investigations have revealed that at least one lakh people have been duped by the fraudsters in the cryptocurrency fraud, and 2.5 lakh IDs have been found – which included multiple IDs of the same person.

The accused used a combination of misinformation, deception and threats to maintain control over the scheme causing huge financial losses to the victims.

Over a thousand police personnel have also fallen victim to the fraud. While a majority of them were duped of crores of rupees, some of them made huge gains, opted for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), and became its promoters.

“We will get all the wrongdoers… The investigation is progressing in an organised and planned manner,” DGP Sanjay Kundu had told PTI earlier. He added that all those involved in the scam will be dealt with strongly as per law.

Police have cautioned the general public to remain vigilant and exercise caution on such investment opportunities, particularly in the cryptocurrency space.

Earlier, two main accused Sukhdev and Hemraj were held in Gujarat, and during investigations, the duo confessed that they have outstanding liabilities of Rs 400 crore. The alleged kingpin of the scam, Subash, is still at large.

(Published 24 October 2023, 16:51 IST)

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