Indian authorities have arrested eight people over their alleged involvement in a $300 million digital asset scam that reportedly defrauded over 100,000 investors.
The scam started in 2018, according to local media reports. Investors were lured to invest in a token called Korvio Coin (or KRO), whose price the scammers guaranteed would skyrocket and make everyone rich.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the scam recently arrested eight suspects, among them four police officers and a forest guard. This brings the total arrests to 18 as public outrage leads to accelerated efforts to crack down on the scam. Most of the suspects hail from the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
“We are now coming to the second layer where people who earned crores from the investment made by new people into the scheme,” police say.
The central orchestrator, Subhash Sharma, remains at large.
Local authorities have reportedly received over 300 complaints from victims, some of whom lost their life savings. The scammers allegedly used a combination of deception, misinformation, and threats to subdue their victims.
Investigations have unearthed over 250,000 registered investors in the scam’s records. However, the SIT says that some IDs were duplicated and that the Korvia Coin scam had about 100,000 investors.
While the victims were from diverse backgrounds, Korvio Coin lured thousands of government employees, among them teachers and policemen. It employed a multi-level marketing structure that rewarded investors who roped their friends into the scheme. Some of the investors made over $240,000 for marketing the scam to other investors, with an even higher number making $120,000.
Investigations reveal that over 1,000 cops were involved in the scam. Their involvement gave much-needed credibility to the scam. Local media reports indicate that many cops opted for the scam’s “voluntary retirement scheme” and became its dedicated promoters.
India has been one of the world’s largest digital asset markets, making it a prime market for scammers. In response to the rising ‘crypto’ scams, the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs is developing a Cryptocurrency Intelligence and Analysis Tool. The new tool will scan dozens of blockchains and trigger alerts whenever it detects irregular activities.
Watch Callahan, MaGruder, Lee, and Reinhardt: Probing criminal acts
New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.