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Cryptocurrency: Accused wanted to dupe victims through betting website

The investigating officers obtained financial records from various banks and found that around Rs 2.5 cores were deposited in the accounts shared by the accused with the victims.

jaipur Updated: Jun 28, 2019 16:46 IST
Jaykishan Sharma
Jaykishan Sharma
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Cryptocurrency,betting website,dupe victims
Accused Vikas Singh and Shilpa Sharma (above), Vishal Gupta (top right) and Mahesh (below right).(HT Photo)

Double your money in eight months and get a 10% incentive for bringing more investors to the fold. It was too good a deal for four Jaipur men, who got trapped in the lure and ended up investing Rs 2.5 crore through four months before they realised that they had been cheated and reported the case to police.

On Tuesday, Rajasthan Police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) arrested four fraudsters — Vishal Gupta, 34; Vikas Singh Choudhary, 32; Shilpa Sharma, 23 and Mahesh Chand Sharma, 36 – for allegedly duping the four men — Prahlad Kumar, Avinash Sharma, Amit Bhardwaj and Yogesh Mahla — in the name of investment in cryptocurrency.

“The accused duped people in the name of investment through websites. They took advantage of victims’ greed for high returns in short time,” said SOG director general (DG) Bhupendra Singh.

According to the FIR lodged by Prahlad Kumar, who is into construction business, the four investors met Shilpa Sharma and Vikas Singh Choudhary in August last year.

“They told us about investment in Monivo Holding Private Limited to double our money in eight months. They said we would earn 0.5% to 2% interest on a daily basis. We got attracted towards the deal and invested Rs 60 lakh the same month,” Kumar said.

In October 2018, the four investors were invited to Bali in Indonesia for a meeting. “There were a lot of foreigners in the meeting and the company announced that it would open its Dubai and Bangkok offices soon. We were reassured that we had invested in the good company,” Kumar said.

On their return, they invested more and by November 2018, had deposited Rs 2.5 crore in the company. The FIR says during this time, the four Jaipur men got some returns in their bank accounts — Kumar got Rs 1.50 lakh, Sharma got Rs 12 lakh, Rs 8 lakh came in Bhardwaj’s account and Rs 12 lakh got credited to the account of Mahla.

The four Jaipur men got user ID and passwords to access their investment accounts. The accounts reflected their investments, but that was only on paper, said an SOG officer investigating the case.

The FIR says the returns stopped after December 2018. When the victims contacted the accused, they were told the value of crypto currency was down hence there was no return on the investments. The victims waited for six months for returns to resume before they reported the case to the SOG on June 18.

Singh, the SOG officer, said a special team was formed to investigate the case.

In the preliminary investigation, the charges were found to be true, he said. The investigating officers obtained financial records from various banks and found that around Rs 2.5 cores were deposited in the accounts shared by the accused with the victims.

During investigation, it was also found that when the victims were pressurizing the accused, Gupta told them that they are starting with a new company called BET2BET and had gone to Armenia with their partner called Mahesh.

An ATS officer related to the case said that BET2BET is a betting website and Mahesh looks after their entire operations in India. “There are around 400-450 betting games on the website, which is banned in India. Vishal convinced the victims to meet Mahesh once saying that he has interesting offer for them, after which they met Mahesh in February in Jaipur along with three-four fake directors of the company, where they were offered a deal that if they will invest money in BET2BET, they will get their money back,” said the ATS official.

He added, “Mahesh was also member of the gang. The plan was that Vikas, Vishal and Shilpa would first dupe the accused in the name of cryptocurrency and then betting website. We also came to know that the company Monivo Holding Private Limited was not even registered with the ministry of corporate affairs.”

When educational background of the accused were checked, it was found that Vishal Gupta is post graduate in commerce, Mahesh Chand Sharma is Class 12 pass, Vikas Singh Choudhary is a graduate in arts and Shilpa Sharma holds post graduate degree in business administration.

First Published: Jun 28, 2019 16:44 IST