Cryptocurrency scammers are on the rise in India as digital asset owners are being targeted by these bad actors. Latest reports reveal that Indian authorities have now arrested a 60-year-old greetings maker for duping around 45 people into investing $350,000 as a part of a major Ponzi scheme that operated via a designated application and promised returns in double-digit every month.
According to local media outlet The Times of India, local police have recently arrested the accused Umesh Verma, who set up a fake website and partnered with an app named “Pluto Exchange.” He used this to promote his fake cryptocurrency dubbed “Coin Zarus.”
Verma worked with his son Bharat, and some other accomplices. The group promoted the cryptocurrency to make it look like it provides fixed returns of 20% to 30% per month on people’s investments.
Even though the claims sound too good to be true, the group still managed to dupe at least 45 businessmen from Delhi, the capital of India, according to the joint commissioner (EOW) OP Mishra. Per the police report, the Ponzi scheme managed to net about Rs 2.5 crore (app. $350,000).
When investors asked for the promised return, Verma used post-dated cheques to trick the investors. After the investors started to realize that Verma was scamming them, he changed his residential addresses to avoid confrontation by the victims and finally fled to Dubai.
The police added that Verma was previously arrested back in 2017 after it was found that he was involved in a gold smuggling case. Besides all the illegal activity, he was a greeting card maker by profession.
Pluto Exchange under investigation
As reported by The Daily Chain in September, 43 people had filed different complaints to the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police claiming that they were duped by the ‘Pluto Exchange’, the one Verma was involved with.
The director of the exchange along with six others involved in the running of the operation were probed by police. The reported amount lost was equivalent to more than $270 000.
Pluto Exchange made the headlines back in 2017 when it announced what was said to be India’s first app-based cryptocurrency wallet. One of the victims also mentioned meeting Bharat Verma who appeared as a company official. He said:
“I met one Bharat Verma (company official). He told me due to down rates of bitcoin and due to seized accounts, they are unable to give me return through the bank so he told me to wait for a few more months,” Kumar said.
Umesh Verma was apprehended by local police at the Indira Gandhi International Airport upon his arrival from Dubai.