Mumbai

Multi-crore cryptocurrency racket busted in Thane

Thane CP Parambir Singh and other officials show seized material at a press conference on Tuesday.

Thane CP Parambir Singh and other officials show seized material at a press conference on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Vibhav Birwatkar

One employee of Thane firm arrested

The Thane Police Crime Branch on Monday busted a racket in which several people were allegedly cheated of hundreds of crores of rupees with a promise of 20% return on investments in cryptocurrency.

According to the police, the lid was blown off the racket after Delhi-based businessman Pravin Agarwal complained to the police that a Thane-based company, Flintstone Group, had cheated him of ₹1.76 crore.

An officer with Unit I of the Crime Branch said, “Mr. Agarwal said that Flintstone Group had claimed to create a form of cryptocurrency called Money Trade Coin, which would become legal tender in some countries in a few years. The directors of the company told Mr. Agarwal that once it became legal tender, he would get 20% returns on his investment. From August 2017 to April 2018, Mr. Agarwal paid a total of ₹1,76,23,000, but did not get any returns.”

The police raided the group’s office in Orion Business Park on Ghodbunder Road on Monday. Mumbra resident Taha Kazi (23), an employee, was arrested early on Tuesday, while the firm’s directors are wanted.

“The accused had transferred the bogus cryptocurrency into accounts set up for the investors. The currency had no value They kept telling investors that they would not only get high returns, but would also be eligible for citizenship in countries where the cryptocurrency would be legal tender. We are tracing more victims. The racket is suspected to run into ₹300 to ₹400 crore,” the officer said.

Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “We have launched a hunt for Amit Lakhanpal, the director of the company, who is the mastermind. A second raid was conducted in the firm’s premises in Vikhroli, and 53 laptops and several documents were seized. They are being analysed.”

Mr. Lakhanpal, who last met Mr. Agrawal in Dubai, is suspected to be abroad.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 10:55:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/multi-crore-cryptocurrency-racket-busted/article24090351.ece

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