Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme: GainBitcoin cheats Mumbai, Pune investors of 2,000 crore, founder flees

Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme: GainBitcoin cheats Mumbai, Pune investors of 2,000 crore, founder flees
A lookout notice has been issued for GainBitcoin founder Amit Bhardwaj, who has fled the country (Representational Image)

Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to probe the alleged scam run by GainBitcoin website which duped investors to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore with Ponzi marketing schemes, the Maharashtra government said on Wednesday.

A lookout notice has been issued for GainBitcoin founder Amit Bhardwaj, who has fled the country, Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil said. The website, gainbitcoin.com, also reads – “Effective Immediately GainBitcoin is to be Considered closed”

A case was also filed at a police station in Nanded on January 24, 2018 in connection with the scam.

Patil was replying to a discussion on the issue raised through a Calling Attention notice by Rahul Kul (of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha) and others.

“The matter of duping of several investors with Ponzi schemes through Gainbitcoin website would be probed by the ED,” the minister said.

He said Bhardwaj and his associates allegedly duped investors to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore in Mumbai, Pune, Nanded, Kolhapur and other places in the state.

“The main accused, Bhardwaj, has fled the country and a lookout notice has been issued for him,” he said.

Another accused, Amolkumar Thombale, has been arrested while two other accused – Balaji Panchal, Raju Motewar – are absconding, he said.

The police has sealed the bank accounts of the accused and also seized Rs six crore, Patil added.

BJP MLA Ashish Shelar told reporters outside the Assembly that some companies allegedly lured people from Nanded and other areas to invest in Bitcoins, while promising higher returns.

“The owners of these companies are now on the run and investors feel cheated,” he said.

Kul said Bhardwaj had formed the company and invited investments in Bitcoins. “As per my estimates, he has gone abroad and Rs 2,000 crore of thousands of investors are stuck,” he alleged.

The company’s directors also allegedly transferred the investors’ money into their own accounts, which is illegal, Kul said.

Just yesterday, HDFC Bank, India’s largest bank by market capitalisation, banned its customers from using debit, credit and prepaid cards to purchase cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

In an email sent out to customers on March 13, the bank noted that “the Reserve Bank of India has also cautioned the public regarding the potential economic, operational, legal and security related risks associated in dealing with such currencies”.

Meanwhile, tech giant Google has announced that it will ban advertisements for cryptocurrencies and other “speculative financial products” across its ad platforms. In January, Facebook had banned all ads promoting cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and ICOs.

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