Business 11 October 2018

Ed Drake

Indian authorities track down prolific ‘Kassh coin’ crypto scammer

Authorities in India have finally caught up with a prolific cryptocurrency scam artist, alleged to have been involved in a number of scams affecting dozens of investors in the country.

In a major coup for law enforcement agencies, Asif Ashraf Malkani was finally arrested after several months on the run, following complaints to police from aggrieved investors in his cryptocurrency scams, Times of India reported.

The first, known as Kassh Coin, was launched two years ago at a lavish function, where Malkani hired models and dancers to entertain guests—including notable Bollywood celebrities. The air of credibility, however, was short lived after investors soon began complaining of a lack of the returns they were promised for investing in the project.

Over the last few weeks, authorities identified Malkani had moved to Uttar Pradesh, where he had been involved in running similar alleged scam—this time around a new cryptocurrency, dubbed V-flix.

Investigators said Malkani was also found to have been soliciting investment for a “commercially viable” video streaming service he had called V-Tube when authorities tracked him down. According to their findings, Malkani had also been involved in sending substantial bank transactions through his fake company, Puneet Enterprises.

After the initial success of their launch event, Malkani set up a number of satellite events across India and into Nepal, including “youth seminars,” designed to stoke interest from younger investors.

However, after Malkani and his co-conspirators withdrew their funds and disappeared, anger had been mounting amongst those caught up in his latest scam. His previous career track record looks equally dubious, with known involvement in several other scams and high profile frauds, including around real-estate and chain-marketing scams.

His arrest was confirmed by senior officers earlier this week. The case is just the latest example of a scammer turning to the crypto sector to cash in on unsuspecting investors.

The case shows the difficulties for investors in largely unregulated crypto markets, with countless instances of unsuspecting individuals being caught out by investment frauds linked to the sector.

Coupled with the threats inherent in older cryptocurrencies, perhaps most prominent with BTC, the case shows safety should still be a priority for anyone looking to get involved in investing in cryptocurrency.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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