Business

Erik Gibbs

$28-million crypto Ponzi scheme ends after arrest

It was probably fun while it lasted, but a cryptocurrency scammer who ripped off investors of over $28 million through a Ponzi scheme has seen his run come to an end. Harpreet Singh Sahni was arrested by India’s Special Task Force (STF) this week as he was holed up in a hotel in Delhi. He will now have to answer for his crimes in front of a judge.

According to a report by the Times of India, Sahni is originally from Madhya Pradesh, but immigrated to Australia 12 years ago. Two years ago, he began offering the Plus Gold Union Coin (PUGC) through a fake business in Australia, promising meteoric returns to duped investors, mainly Indians living in the country. He held energetic public presentations and seminars to attract new investors, also promising incredible wealth for little investments and tempting more investors by providing clients with tastes of what they could receive in return for their money.

Investors became suspicious and approached the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, as well as the office of India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. An investigation was launched and the Ponzi scheme was eventually uncovered.

PUGC has been found to have operations in 22 countries as a result of the investigation and more could be included. So far, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Colombia, Finland and Nigeria have been identified as countries where the scamming team was operating, and additional investigations are still underway.

One victim is Rajiv Sharma, an India who left his homeland for Australia. He reportedly invested $52,000 over two years, mostly in cash, and asserts, “Everything looked genuine… a nice website with our personal dashboard and presentations by the promoters that were slick and statistical graphs indicating projected growth.”

Sharma adds, “We will write to the embassy and other regulatory bodies for further action against those involved. [The arrest is] a major success since an overseas syndicate has been exposed.”

Sahni had reportedly traveled to India as he was looking for a new home, most likely in an attempt to evade authorities. He is said to have been looking to settle somewhere in the Middle East when his escapade came to an end.

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