HP cryptocurrency scam: SIT to seek warrant for extradition of kingpin from UAE

HP cryptocurrency scam: SIT to seek warrant for extradition of kingpin from UAE

Shimla, Nov 25 (PTI) The special investigation team (SIT) probing the Rs 2,500-crore cryptocurrency scam would approach the competent court on November  28 to seek a warrant for the extradition of fugitive kingpin Subhash Sharma from UAE, officials said on Saturday.

 “The kingpin of the scam Subhash Sharma from Sarkaghat in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district is still at large and as per our information, he is hiding in UAE. Efforts are underway to bring him back,” Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) northern range, Abhishek Dhullar, who is heading the SIT, told PTI.

The multi-crore cryptocurrency ponzi scam started in 2018. The investors smelled something fishy when they stopped getting returns during the Covid pandemic when most business activities came to a halt. Later when they asked the accused about their pending returns, they realised they had fallen into a trap and were threatened to keep shut, the police said.

The fraudsters threatened the victims that they would lose all their invested money if they reported the matter to the police, which deterred them from lodging a complaint, they added.

However, after the scam was exposed in 2022, hundreds of victims came forward and uncovered the modus operandi of the accused. Over 300 complaints have been received in this regard so far, the officials said.

The SIT investigation has also revealed that the kingpin and his main associates invested in plots and flats in Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana besides buying luxury items including high-end cars, which were otherwise out of their reach and even indulged in tax evasion, they added.

A total of 19 persons including some of the main accused -- Hemraj, Sukhdev, both from Mandi and Arun Guleria and Abhishekh from Una have been arrested, the DGP Sanjay Kundu had said.

'We are now coming to the second layer where 70-80 persons who earned over Rs 2 crore each from the investment made by new people into the scheme,' he said.

The Himachal Police is also coordinating with the central and financial agencies and other state police, the DGP had said, adding that action was being taken against the criminals under the Banning of Unregulated Deposits Schemes (BUDS) Act, 2019.

The scammers lured innocent people by promising handsome returns in a short period and built a network of investors. People from different sections of the society including policemen, teachers and others got involved in the scheme for quick returns.

The accused approached people with an investment plan related to a locally made (in Mandi district) cryptocurrency known as 'Korvio Coin' or KRO coins.

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

Three to four kinds of cryptocurrency were used and fake websites were created to show inflated prices of the cryptocurrency coins. The website used for the crypto-scam had around 2.5 lakh different IDs.

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 by creating chains by roping in more investors. They opted for voluntary retirement and started promoting the ponzi scheme. PTI BPL RPA

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