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8 arrested as Pune police unplug ‘multi-level marketing’ bitcoin fraud

Police commissioner Rashmi Shukla, while addressing mediapersons at the commissionerate, said that three such cases have been lodged at Dattawadi, Nigdi and Nanded police stations so far.

pune Updated: Apr 04, 2018 23:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,police,mult-level
The accused have been booked for cheating under various Sections of the Information Technology Act, Prize Chits fund and money circulation schemes (Banning) Act and relevant sections of the Maharashtra Protection of Investors Deposit (MPID) Act. (HT REPRESENTATIONAL PHOTO)

A special investigation team (SIT) of the Pune police cyber crime cell, which is investigating as many as 27 cases of fraud involving crypto-currencies, has arrested eight persons involved in cheating several bitcoin investors in the city. The police believe that the accused were running an organised criminal multi-level marketing fraud.

Police commissioner Rashmi Shukla, while addressing mediapersons at the commissionerate, said that three such cases have been lodged at Dattawadi, Nigdi and Nanded police stations so far.

Explaining their modus operandi, Shukla said, “The suspects involved in the crime would lure people to invest in bitcoins (a crypto-currency) for higher returns. Investors were told that they have invested in bitcoin currency, but they were fraudulently offered other cheap virtual currencies like Ether and Mcap.

The difference between the value of these three currencies were earning points for the fraudsters. Since many people are unaware of these currencies and were promised higher returns, they got tricked.”

The arrested accused have been identified as Akash Sancheti from Mukundnagar; Kajal Singhvi from Maharashinagar; Vyas Narhari Sapa from Bhavani peth; Hemant Vishwad Suryavanshi from Baner; Hemant Babasaheb Chavan from Hadapsar; Ajay Jadhav from Kalewadi; Pankaj Adlakha from Delhi; and Hemant Bhope from Dhayari.

DCP (EOW and cyber cell ) Sudhir Hiremath said, “Hemant Bhope would advertise about the scheme and would attract people to invest in Gain Bitcoin company. Another accused identified as Pankaj, who is a motivational speaker, was arrested from Delhi for taking seminars for Gain Bitcoin company.”

The accused have been booked for cheating under various Sections of the Information Technology Act, Prize Chits fund and money circulation schemes (Banning) Act and relevant sections of the Maharashtra Protection of Investors Deposit (MPID) Act.

Additional CP (Crime) Pradeep Deshpande said that over 8,000 people have been cheated in the multi-level marketing fraud. “These crypto-currencies are yet to be approved by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and investors should refrain from investing in such schemes,” he added.

Cyber experts Pankaj Ghode and Praneet Kumar helped the police in unearthing the racket and also investigate the case.

Police inspector Anil Patil of Dattawadi police station said that 32 bitcoins, 79.99 Ether coins, and ₹38.96 lakh cash was recovered from the arrested accused.

“The bitcoins and Ether coins have been transferred to the mobile wallet of the Pune police,” added Patil.

First Published: Apr 04, 2018 22:55 IST