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Amit Bhardwaj, the mastermind behind one of the largest Bitcoin Ponzi schemes in India, was arrested this week. The 35-year-old had been actively marketing his scheme since 2015, before it came to the notice of the authorities.
Several investors were lured to his Ponzi schemes, which promised handsome returns.
Zakhil Suresh, a finance student living in Kerala, was one of them. In a petition to the Delhi Commissioner of Police to arrest Bhardwaj, Suresh said that he and his friends met Bhardwaj in 2015 at Delhi where the latter explained his five-year business plan. Bhardwaj claimed his company had a mining pool in China and for every contract of one Bitcoin, his company promised to pay back 0.1 Bitcoin a month, for 18 months, translating to an effective monthly return of 10 per cent.
In 2015 itself, a police complaint was filed against Bhardwaj. A year later, a case was also filed against him, but no action was taken. Over a year ago, Bhardwaj's company released a full-page advertisement on the front pages of most leading dailies.
A US-based NRI student had also invested in four Bitcoins from Bhardwaj's company, when the original cryptocurrency was trading at $1,000 apiece. But, when prices shot up to $20,000 last December, the student realised that he had not received any money while the original Bitcoin had delivered 20 times return in a year. Even as his complaints remained unheard, Bhardwaj left India to settle in Dubai after duping thousands of investors.