Bitcoin, the most popular among all the cryptocurrencies in the world, has attracted thousands of investors in India. But it appears that investments and frauds in cryptocurrency in India are moving in sync as fraudulent activities related to Bitcoin are not stopping any time soon, and this time the real culprits happened to be policemen.
In the latest incident, that highlights the rising stats of cryptocurrency crimes in India, the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) of Gujarat police has charged eight rogue policemen and arrested two of them for kidnapping and allegedly extorting Bitcoins worth Rs 120 million from a Surat-based businessman. The other six are reportedly on the run.
According to the report, the incident took place earlier this year in Surat, which is known as the industrial town of Gujarat, when eight policemen of Amreli district’s local crime branch unit and a lawyer abducted a real-estate businessman Shailesh Bhatt to a farmhouse in Gandhinagar. They forced Bhatt to transfer 200 Bitcoins worth $1.8 million at that time. Later, they also demanded an additional ransom of $4.9 million to free him.
Days later after being freed, Bhatt approached the CID and filed a complaint against the policemen on Feb 23, 2018. Two police constables – Babu Der and Vijay Vadher – were arrested on Sunday. Efforts are being made to nab the six remaining and the lawyer who has gone underground.
This is the second case in Surat in the last one month that involved cryptocurrency. Two policemen were previously arrested in the first case for abducting a businessman and demanding ransom in Bitcoin.
The Indian government may not have laid a foundation of cryptocurrency yet, fraudsters are bullish about its value. The rising number of cryptocurrency crimes in India portrays a worrisome scenario.
Cryptocurrency Crimes In India: On The Rise
Scamsters and conmen are duping Indian investors, who are eager for quick profits, by luring them into spending hugely on virtual currencies. It’s a popular perception that a good investment in cryptocurrency can ensure you a promising return. Though, it doesn’t always work like that even if you understand the crypto market good enough.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are based on the disruptive technology of Blockchain. It is ironical how the technology is all about transparency and speed in transactions, yet a huge demographic including the government of India is not able to regulate or even comprehend it. Even the abrupt fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin is not able to stop the investors and the foul players.
At the beginning of 2017, Bitcoin was valued around $1000, and in late December in the same year, its value skyrocketed to around $16,000, a mind-boggling increase of 1500%. However, Bitcoin’s value crashed by 50%, from $13,500 to $6,800 since the beginning of 2018. The surge and downfall of Bitcoin underlines its unpredictability due to its volatile nature.
Earlier this month, Amit Bhardwaj, the founder of GainBitcoin and author of Cryptocurrency for Beginners, from India, was arrested for allegedly duping 8,000 people of around $300 million (Rs 2,000 Crore) in Cryptocurrency crimes. In June last year, a businessman from Mohali had gone through an ordeal when a group of six people abducted him and demanded ransom in bitcoins. Later, all the people were arrested on charges of abduction and ransom demand. In September, police arrested six people for abducting, robbing and assaulting a businessman in Delhi over cryptocurrency. Police have also busted many ponzi schemes involving alleged cryptocurrencies like OneCoin and ATC coin. Many conmen have been known to run ponzi schemes involving virtual money to defraud the investors of huge sums.
Indian government and RBI has repeatedly cautioned Indian citizens over any type of cryptocurrencies. India’s Blockchain and Cryptocurrency committee estimates that at least 4 to 5 million people in the country possess some kind of cryptocurrency. Last week, RBI has barred all banks and financial institutions from dealing or providing service of any form involving any cryptocurrency.