Uttar Pradesh: a police task force has busted a gang of Bitcoin scammers, according to a report in Bitcoin.com.
Using a service called Localbitcoins, the gang would find marks, offer them Bitcoin for a discounted price, and then disappear with the cash paid. The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) announced that the gang has now been broken up.
According to the Hindustan Times, the fraud came to the attention of the police following a complaint from a Haryana businessman. According to information gained by the police from a close associate of the ringleader, many of the gang were pursuing higher education. Triveni Singh, superintendent of the STF’s cyber wing, said: “They are suspected to be college students who got involved in the fraud to make a fast buck.”
India has been a playground for cryptocurrency criminals lately, keeping police busy.
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The Times of India reported two weeks ago on a gang which duped 15,000 people into investing in a scam coin called ‘Kashhcoin’. The gang used social media to pursue leads, promising them huge returns on their investments. Delhi Police Crime Branch arrested one individual and is investigating the roles of eight others.
In September, six people were arrested for kidnapping, beating and robbing a New Delhi businessman who had gone to meet them in order to pay for Bitcoin in cash. According to the Hindustan Times, the businessman was “probably” the gang’s third victim.
Cryptocurrency is flourishing in India, but the government is treating the industry with distrust. Quartz reported in November that Bitcoin exchanges on the subcontinent have been reporting hundreds of thousands of new users on a monthly basis, but the Reserve Bank of India stands firm in not recognising it as a legal form of payment.
Cryptocurrency has not been explicitly banned, although the government is considering it. In the meantime, exchanges are operating without regulation.
The RBI has issued warnings to the public that digital currency exists outside the protection of the law and should be treated with caution. Earlier this month, the Income Tax Department of India began investigating cryptocurrency exchanges on a nationwide basis, without offering an explanation as to the purpose.