Suspected fraudsters in India have come out with desi versions of bitcoin, a cryptocurrency used globally, and duped unsuspecting people of crores of rupees, police said. And, they are doing this in the garb of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ initiatives.
In the past one month, the Delhi Police’s crime branch has received eight complaints from people alleging that they were cheated by agents selling the currency.
Bitcoin is a form of digital currency that is created and held electronically in the form of an algorithm. Its value is determined by perception and demand. One may wait for the market price to increase and then sell it or use it to buy goods. Its price might fluctuate but on average they have been increasing, although analysts and experts have warned investors that it is a bubble waiting to burst.
Police said the conmen had convinced people to invest their money in these coins, promising huge returns, in turn making crores of rupees.
They have also launched websites to sell this virtual currency, claiming it to be authorised by the Reserve Bank of India.
Besides Delhi, these websites are being run from Sonipat, Bengaluru, Pune and Mumbai, said a senior police officer.
Here are some of these desi bitcoins available in the market.
A website selling the cryptocurrency, in the shape of a gold coin with an image of goddess Lakshmi embossed on it, claims it is promoting these as part of the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ initiatives.
Promising huge returns on people’s investment, just as the bitcoin, the website claims that it already has over 2 lakh registered users who have invested more than a crore of rupees buying these coins.
“People need to understand that it is a Ponzi scheme. This coin is not authorised by RBI nor does it fall under the Digital India initiative,” DCP (crime branch) Bhisham Singh told ThePrint.
“The website is making false claims and it is a scheme to dupe investors,” he added.
According to the police officer, people in India have not yet understood the use of cryptocurrency.
“All they know is that by investing in bitcoin, they can make quick bucks, but they do not know where and how to make a genuine purchase, which is why they are getting duped,” Singh said.
This one has an image of a bull embossed on a gold coin. Bullcoin is projected as a “peer-to-peer digital currency with a distributed, decentralised public ledger, which unlike those of traditional banks is viewable and easily audited by anyone”.
The Bullcoin website promises ‘anonymity’, ‘faster transaction’ and ‘transparency in ledger’.
“Anyone can use the wallet and transact with the anonymity. No personal information is required to create and use Bullcoin addresses for sending and receiving funds,” it said.
“It is extremely fast, you can send money to anyone in the world within seconds….Anyone can view transaction history, so it’s entirely transparent.”
This coin even gives the buyer a software for mining bull coins. None of these, is however, true, according to the police.
“Individuals do not have the capacity to mine bitcoins as it requires specific infrastructure, including supercomputers and high amount of energy,” an officer said.
“These are all malicious claims. Over 1.7 crore bitcoins are currently in circulation across the world,” the officer added
Bullcoin was reportedly launched by a person from Paschim Vihar who has made crores of rupees.
Lite Coin Classic
The seller claims that the buyer will start getting a rate of interest of 3.5 per cent weekly starting from the very next day of deposit. However, the money will credit after 30 days of deposit confirmation in a wallet.
“It is being run by a man from Ghaziabad…The man who has started the coin has already made crores in just a few months with people investing lakhs of rupees,” a source said.
Kashh Coin sellers claim that the investors will have their money doubled in just a few weeks. On their website, they have a graph which shows the value of coins growing by each minute in euros and dollars.
A 32-year-old man, hailing from Sonipat, was arrested in December for duping a Delhi resident who had invested Rs 25 lakh in the coins and did not get any return.
“This Delhi resident was told that the cost of Kashh Coin would go up but he did not get any returns. In fact, the seller stopped taking his calls,” DCP Singh said.
“This gang had even hired a professional to design their website and channelise all transactions online. Using the website, they made crores,” he added.
Investigators said that all these sellers have a similar modus operandi. They first invite famous personalities to seminars held in five star hotels to attract investors. They explain their scheme and assure them good returns for their investors. Once a person gets ready to invest, they trap them into their multi-level marketing strategy.
“In case of the Kashh Coin, the sellers sold it for Rs 3.50 per coin, while an actual bitcoin costs more than Rs 10 lakh,” Singh said.
The RBI has already cautioned investors about the risks associated with trading in virtual currency.
“All these coins have been introduced on the same pattern as bitcoin but they are fake and the people need to be aware of this,” Singh said.
Delhi Police has also written to the RBI given the rising number complaints related to cryptocurrency.