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Cryptocurrency scam kingpin likely in Dubai, have sought Interpol’s help: HP DGP

Mastermind Subhash Sharma has managed to evade capture and is suspected to have sought refuge in Dubai, said DGP Kundu. (HT File)

Gaurav Bisht

8 Oct 2023

Police sleuths said preparations have begun to repatriate Subhash Sharma, the master mind of the multi-crore cryptocurrency scam, who has fled the country. He is believed to be in Dubai.

The special investigation team (SIT) of state police, with help from Union ministry of external affairs (MEA) and central investigating agencies , said official.

Director general of police Sanjay Kundu said that the Interpol’s help was also being sought in efforts through MEA and they were also mulling a Red Corner Notice.

The crypto currency scam, estimated to be around 400 crore, had duped people of 25 crore in Mandi alone. Mandi residents reported 40 complaints to the cyber police station. Ironically, the masterminds of this scam are also residents of Mandi district.

Two of the masterminds, Hemraj Thakur and Sukhdev, hailing from Balh sub-division of Mandi district, were arrested by the Himachal police from Gujarat.

This multi-level marketing (MLM) scam which began in 2018 spans various districts, including Mandi, Kullu, Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Una, and it is estimated to involve over 400 crore.

The net is closing in on the perpetrators, with the SIT conducting raids in multiple cities across neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. These operations have resulted in the apprehension of fraudsters, the seizure of ill-gotten assets, and the retrieval of vital transaction documents. Nevertheless, the mastermind, Subhash Sharma, has managed to evade capture and is suspected to have sought refuge in Dubai, said DGP Kundu.

Preliminary investigation revealed that members of the police force may also have been complicit in the scam, with reports suggesting that they had invested in cryptocurrency and encouraged others to follow suit.

Some reports alleged that some officers took premature retirement because of their connection to such crypto investments.

Deputy inspector general (Northern Range) Abhishek Dhullar, who is heading the SIT, had earlier said thousands of innocent people were duped in the state and the exact amount is yet to be ascertained.

The accused used a combination of misinformation, deception and threats to maintain control over their scheme and continue extracting money from unsuspecting investors by manipulating the cryptocurrency prices, which led to huge financial losses to the victims, he added.

The miscreants approached people with an investment plan related to a locally created cryptocurrency known as “Korvio Coin” also called as KRO coins, police said, adding they charged an initial activation fee for getting their accounts activated by promising substantial returns. Three or four kinds of cryptocurrency were used, police said.

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through computer network that is not dependent on any central authority such as the government or bank to uphold or maintain it.

Police said the criminals used a Ponzi scheme pattern, a type of investment scam in which returns are paid to the earlier investors from the capital contributed by new investors rather than from legitimate profits.

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