An alleged mastermind of a cryptocurrency scam has been arrested in India after he fled the country to Dubai. Investors were duped into investing in a cryptocurrency linked to a crypto exchange he established. The scheme also promised investors a monthly return of 20%-30% on investments.
Alleged Kingpin of Crypto Scam Arrested
An alleged mastermind of a cryptocurrency scam, Umesh Verma, was arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday as he arrived from Dubai. Local media reported that he was arrested “on charges of duping at least 45 people to the tune of Rs 2.5 crore in a cryptocurrency scam.”
The 60-year-old is held by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi police. Verma was accused of cheating and misappropriating funds from investors under the guise of cryptocurrency trading. The case was registered with the police in September.
Verma, a Delhi University graduate, had a jewelry and greeting card business, which suffered huge losses. He was also arrested in a gold smuggling case by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in December 2017.
He and his son Bharat Verma set up Pluto Exchange in 2017. They claimed to launch India’s first mobile application for cryptocurrency trading. Verma opened an office at a prominent location in Connaught Place. He lured people to invest in the exchange’s cryptocurrency in November 2017 using promotional Youtube videos that led to two websites he controlled: plutoexchange.com and f2poolmining.com.
The scheme promised investors a monthly return of 20%-30% on their investments in Pluto Exchange’s cryptocurrency in addition to a commission for recruiting more people to invest in the cryptocurrency.
When the company could not deliver on its promises, Verma told investors that bitcoin’s price had plummeted and several of the company’s bank accounts were seized. He also changed his address often to avoid the victims. His company subsequently closed its offices in India and Verma fled the country to Dubai in 2018 where he started a commodity trading business under the name Bharat Umesh General Trading LLC.
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