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SIT conducts searches at 41 locations in Himachal in cryptocurrency scam, 1 arrested

The SIT probing thealleged multi-crore cryptocurrencyscamconducted searches at 41 different locations in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday and arrested one of the main accused Abhishek Sharma, who was evading arrest, police said on Sunday.

Abhishek, a resident of Una district was one of the main four accused in the scam that started in 2018 when the alleged fraudsters approached people with an investment plan related to a locally made (Mandi district) cryptocurrencyknown as ‘Korvio Coin’ or KRO coin, police said.

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

Abhishek was apprehended by the SIT and produced in a court, which remanded him to five-day police custody, a statement issued by the police said.

Searches were conducted at 25 places in Hamirpur, seven in Kangra, four in Bilaspur and two each in Mandi and Una and one in Solan district. These searches have yielded crucial evidences, including incriminating documents, property records, mobile phones and other digital devices, the statement added.

The evidences collected during these searches will play a vital role in our ongoing investigation, and it brings us one step closer to holding the culprits accountable for their actions, DGP Sanjay Kundu told PTI, adding that so far 10 people have been arrested in the case.

The scammers had lured innocent people by promising handsome returns in a short span of time and built a network of investors. Three to four kinds ofcryptocurrencieswere used and fake websites were created, in which thecryptocurrencies’prices were manipulated and inflated, police said.

Cryptocurrencyis 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 a bank to uphold or maintain it.

The SIT investigations had revealed that at least one lakh people have been duped in theallegedfraud, and 2.5 lakh IDs have been found, including 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, officials said.

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, according to officials.

The DGP had earlier said the investigation is progressing in an organised and planned manner and all those involved in the scam will be dealt with strictly according to law.

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

(Published 29 October 2023, 15:59 IST)

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