Infamous Indian cryptocurrency criminal Amit Bhardwaj, who allegedly scammed people out of money to the tune of $300 million USD, has been arrested in Bangkok. His acts of theft and fraud were committed through a series of bitcoin Ponzi schemes, MLM schemes, an ICO, and a trading and mining platform.
An Ecosystem of Fraudulent Crypto Products and Services
According to the CNN News 18 report, the Computer Science and Engineering graduate had been on the run for a few months. After first fleeing to Dubai, Bhardwaj became fearful of law enforcement and faked a heart attack at Dubai’s airport, giving him a pathway to escape to Thailand.
Nevertheless, security agencies were able to track his movements and he was soon arrested in Bangkok. He is presently on his way back to India to face trial. The CNN News 18 report claims that, during his escape, Bhardwaj made contact with the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, possibly opening him up to a number of other charges.
Bhardwaj operated several Ponzi schemes that included Gain Bitcoin and GBMiners, both cryptocurrency schemes that enticed newcomers into the crypto space with unrealistic promises of returns.
Bharadwaj created an ecosystem of services involving cryptocurrencies. In 2013, he launched Highkart.com – an e-commerce platform that accepted bitcoin as payment. However, the project was shuttered in 2016, realizing that using bitcoin as payment was still new for the average Indian customer. He then turned to creating bitcoin mining pools. GBMiners claimed to be the first Bitcoin mining pool in the country.
GainBitcoin.com, a cloud-based trading and mining platform, was also launched in 2013. GainBitcoin.com witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity due to the crypto mania sweeping the country. Its purported aim was to provide the opportunity for small investors to ride the bitcoin wave. However, it was found to be a vehicle for Bhardwaj and his team to speculate on cryptocurrency using investors’ money.
Despite Government Warnings, the Crypto Craze Proved Too Tempting
While his arrest will please the investors that Bhardwaj conned, they are unlikely to see their funds recovered. Bhardwaj benefited significantly from aggressive advertising campaigns and marketed himself as a serial entrepreneur and bitcoin evangelist, allowing him to defraud victims numbering in the thousands.
He also created a digital token – the MCAP Token. At the time of the ICO, the tokens were valued at $5 USD and miners were offered an option to accept rewards in the form of MCAP tokens. The MCAP parent company – Bitcoin Growth, used the money raised with MCAP to mine cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and litecoin. Within months of its launch, miners were offered payouts in MCAP tokens only.
The Indian government has repeatedly warned its citizens to stay away from cryptocurrency related schemes. However, marketing techniques and false promised returns on investments continue to lure less savvy investors.
Have your say. Will investors see their funds returned? Will this serve as a warning to others advertised schemes that sound too good to be true?
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