Arrests over India’s Korvio Coin crypto scam rise to 18
An ongoing crypto scam in India that duped around 100,000 people out of $300 million continues to unravel, with eight new arrests, including four police officers.
The elaborate scheme, which has been under the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) lens, saw victims from various backgrounds, including 5,000 government officials and roughly 1,000 police personnel. This deceptive operation had been running since 2018, when fraudsters first began peddling the local cryptocurrency named Korvio Coin, or KRO coins, which later involved multiple cryptocurrencies through sham websites, including a rug pull incident.
The scandal, originating in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district, drew in over a thousand police officials. While the majority were swindled, some reportedly reaped substantial profits, and a few even became active promoters of the fraudulent cryptocurrency, bringing in more investors.
Despite over 56 complaints lodged over two years, the scam only recently unraveled following extensive probes by various agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate. Recent searches led to the discovery of around 250,000 ID cards related to the suspects. Investigations revealed that over 100 individuals made profits exceeding $240,000 each, and around 200 others earned about $120,000 each from the scam.
To entice investors, the swindlers launched not only the ‘Korvio Coin’ but also another digital token named ‘DGT Coin,’ setting up counterfeit websites displaying manipulated prices for these cryptocurrencies. They promised high returns in short periods, expanding their network through a chain of new investors.
The scam gained legitimacy as some police personnel, after taking voluntary retirement, became promoters of the scheme, thus attracting a wider circle of investors. The scale of the scam was vast, with some individuals bringing in up to 1,000 people each.
Authorities have found that the perpetrators used misinformation, deception, and even threats to keep the operation afloat. They continued to fleece investors by fluctuating the cryptocurrency prices, leading to substantial financial damages.
While 18 arrests have been made to date, the alleged mastermind behind the scam, Subhash Sharma, remains elusive. Authorities have seized several properties linked to Sharma in the ongoing investigation.
The Enforcement Directorate’s probe is expanding to include the involvement of five women who are suspected of having served as agents or promoters for Sharma. This case is unfolding as one of the largest cryptocurrency frauds in India, revealing the perils and potential for exploitation in the unregulated crypto market.