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Police Bust Rs 500 Crore Cryptocurrency Scam in Thane, Over 25,000 People Cheated

The accused allegedly floated a company and launched their own cryptocurrency named Money Trade Coin in September 2017 in Dubai with an initial offering of 3$ per coin.

Chaitanya Mangure | CNN-News18

Updated:June 5, 2018, 5:38 PM IST
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Police Bust Rs 500 Crore Cryptocurrency Scam in Thane, Over 25,000 People Cheated
The accused allegedly floated a company and launched their own cryptocurrency named Money Trade Coin in September 2017 in Dubai with an initial offering of 3$ per coin.
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The Thane crime branch has busted a cryptocurrency scam worth Rs500 crore and arrested one person, an official said on Tuesday.
The scam was allegedly devised by The Flintstone Group run by prime accused Amit Lakhanpal.

The accused allegedly floated a company and launched their own cryptocurrency named Money Trade Coin in September 2017 in Dubai with an initial offering of 3$ per coin.

Lakhanpal attracted investors by promising them higher returns, sometimes increasing the value to 6,000$ per coin. However, the rights to sell the coins were reserved with the firm.

Over 25,000 people fell prey to the scam and invested around Rs500 crore. However, when they did not get any money in return, they decided to approach the police.

On receiving information, the crime branch raided two locations at Thane and Vikroli. Cops seized 53 laptops, fake identity cards of the finance ministry and counterfeit credit and deposit certificates. Lakhanpal, who studied till Class 8, also has a fake management degree and certificate of deposit worth Rs2,500 crore from HSBC bank.

According to the police, the prime accused escaped once he realised that some investors were planning to approach the police. Three accused, including Lakahnpal, are suspected to be hiding in Dubai.

Police arrested a person from Mumbra identified as Taha Kazi, who allegedly developed the software for Lakhanpal and was handling the technical operations of his firm.

In an effort to grab eyeballs, Lakhanpal ensured that he made it to the cover of several magazines, including Middle East Forbes, SME World and Biography. His pictures with film stars, politicians and businessmen in various publications were also used to attract investors.

Celebrities and political leaders seen with Lakhanpal in various events are also on the radar of investigators. Speaking to News18, Thane commissioner of police Param Bir Singh said, “We are probing the role of several film stars, politicians and businessmen to find out if they were victims or beneficiaries.”

They also suspect the involvement of an API-rank officer from Thane police in the racket, Singh said.

A case has been registered under several sections of the IPC, including cheating. Lakhanpal and his three aides have also been booked under the Chit Fund Act, the Maharashtra Protection of Interests of Depositors (MPID) Act and the Information Technology Act.
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