India's "Cryptocurrency Guru" Arrested for Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme

India's "Cryptocurrency Guru" Arrested for Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme

 Amit Bhardwaj was arrested in and alleged MASSIVE Bitcoin-related Poinzi scheme, in which between $751M - $1.95B USD were swindled from investors. 

Amit Bhardwaj was arrested in and alleged MASSIVE Bitcoin-related Poinzi scheme, in which between $751M - $1.95B USD were swindled from investors. 

An author, a trusted cryptocurrency expert, a celebrity and now, the alleged mastermind of a Bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme. Amit Bhardwaj was arrested by police in India's Delhi airport on Thursday, upon returning from Bangkok. Bhardwaj is accused of being the brains behind a Ponzi scheme, victimizing approximately 8k people, and stealing and estimated Rs 5,000-13,000 crore ($751M - $1.95B USD). Bhardwaj is one of many, of whom have already been arrested in relation to this case. His three companies (Gain Bitcoin, GB21, and GBMiners), are said to have promised investors high investment returns, a promise on which was never followed through.

As reported by businesstoday.in, GainBitcoin launched in Dec. 2015, as a Bitcoin investment opportunity, promising 10% returns (paid in Bitcoin) for investors. In May 2017, Bhardwaj created his own crypotcurrency token, MCAP, and offered to pay investor returns using MCAP, in lieu of Bitcoin, touting this option as 'more lucrative'. Eventually, investors made complaints that the terms and conditions regarding payouts were changed overnight, stating that MCAP would now be the ONLY option for returns payouts. As angry investors began to complain, Bhardwaj was already gone from the country and was no longer opening any lines of communication with them; the website went down for alleged "maintenance", however the site never went back online. At the time, it was estimated that Bhardwaj made off with about Rs 2000 crore ($300M USD), but that figure was determined based on investors in India. 

It was later realized that Bhardwaj's reach was international; his operation had expanded to UAE, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Indonesia. A police consultant, Pankaj Ghode, told the publicaton, India Today this: 

We are waiting to get our hands on the physical data and after that we would be able to figure out the exact number of bitcoins involved in this case. But we estimate that it could be anything between one lakh to five lakh bitcoins (lakh = 100,000).

As actual facts and figures are still being summed up, there are still many investors whom have not yet come forth, for fear stories like this one, from investor and merchant navy officer, Rajiv Kumar: 

When I first approached the police in Kolkata (Calcutta), I was treated as a suspect. I was questioned for hours and was eventually told that I should register an FIR (FIR is a written document prepared by police organizations when they receive information about the commission of a cognisable offense) at my home town

Parvendra Singh, an investor affected by the scheme, was met with similar issue when coming to authorities; Parvendra alleges, "I struggled for months to explain this case to different authorities -- from talking to local police to writing to the RBI, SEBI, the HMO and the PMO. Once I learnt that he was in Dubai I went there to meet him." Singh tracked Bhardwaj down at an exclusive party in in Dubai, later meeting with him in his office, and recorded the conversation. Bhardwaj was recorded bragging: 

it’s easy for me. I can buy 150 police stations with Rs 150 crore. There won’t be a single FIR

If Bhardwaj's proclamation is true, it will take some time to get to the bottom of how many parties were actually taken advantage of, and the total sum of the stolen funds. 

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