The victims of India’s largest-ever crypto Ponzi scheme lose $12.8 billion

As the cryptocurrency sector expands, criminals seek new ways to steal other people’s digital possessions, with the biggest crypto Ponzi scheme in India costing its victims billions of dollars.

Specifically, victims of the intricate pyramid scam known as GainBitcoin have lost over 1 trillion Indian rupees, or more than $12.8 billion, according to a June 16 article by the India-based news outlet Onmanorama.

In a typical pyramid scheme, Amit Bhardwaj’s ‘Seven Stars’ assisted the con artist’s operation. Through multi-level marketing schemes, the gang guaranteed its victims a 10 percent monthly return on Bitcoin-on-Bitcoin investments for 18 months.

Several investors have already invested in the fraud before learning that the supply of Bitcoins (BTC) is restricted and that the guarantee is, as a result, not practical. The issue became more complex with the loss of its mastermind, who died of heart arrest earlier in 2022.

Bhardwaj is said to have earned between 385,000 and 600,000 Bitcoins, and police in Pune, the state capital of Maharashtra, have apparently identified over 60,000 user IDs and email addresses associated with the case.

Amit Bhardwaj’s cryptocurrency wallet login and password were not disclosed to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of India’s Ministry of Finance Department of Revenue, making his brother Ajay Bhardwaj the next most likely suspect.

The legitimacy of crypto is not a subject of scrutiny

As it was a Ponzi scam, the ED said in March that the legality of cryptocurrencies in India, which is in the process of determining how to regulate it, was irrelevant to the case.

“The investigation performed so far has indicated that Amit Bhardwaj (who passed away in January of this year) with the connivance of petitioner, Vivek Bhardwaj, Mahender Bhadrway and others, i.e. multi-level marketing agents and connected, has acquired 80,000 bitcoins as criminal profits.”

Notably, the cryptocurrency sector is not immune to scams, with another prevalent form comprising a crypto coin’s team or a single person inflating its price by publicly professing to be optimistic and then selling their holdings at inflated prices for millions of dollars in profit.

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