Police in the western Indian state of Maharashtra have arrested two suspected of running a crypto scam that allegedly bilked more than 1,400 investors out of between $6 million and $12 million. So far, 24 investors have come forward claiming they were scammed out of $55,000. The arrests were made on Aug. 10 following raids in Thane and Powai, two regions in Greater Mumbai, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Thane police said.
Police arrested Ritesh Dilip Kumar Sikligar, a/k/a Pancha, and Mohan Patil, an agent who lured customers into the scheme from across the country, said an EOW official investigating the case. The Economic Crimes Division detained Kumar, who is believed to be the mastermind, and Patil until Aug. 20 for questioning. The two have been in custody since then.
“In court, when we secured custody, we stated that according to the information currently available, the scam has a value of 6 crores ($750,000), but we estimate the amount to be over 50 crores and under 100 crores,” the official said. “Some discrepancies have surfaced in the amounts of money associated with each of the approximately 1,400 investors.” A crore is the equivalent of 10 million.
So far, 24 investors have said they lost a total of 4.4 million rupees. The investigating officer said police expect the number to rise as more people come forward.
The scheme involved luring investors with promises of big returns. The more they invested, the higher the return. The crypto tokens were called SMP and Magic 3x. They were not listed on any exchange.
“The perpetrators lured customers with promises of interest ranging from 0.05% to 1% per day, depending on the amount invested,” a police official said. “If 24,000 rupees was invested, the return was 0.05% per day with the promise that this amount would triple to about 72,000 rupees within 20 months.”