An Australian citizen who ran an international crypto Ponzi scheme will face justice after police in India finally arrested him - but not before he defrauded victims out of $28 million.
India's Special Task Force (STF) arrested Sydney resident Harpreet Singh Sahni in a hotel near the Delhi airport, the Times of India reported on Tuesday.
According to the magazine, Sahni was operating the Plus Gold Union Coin (PGUC) company that had defrauded thousands of victims - mostly Indians living in Australia. However, the scam operated in 22 countries and duped victims of a total of 2 billion INR ($28.3 million).
Sahni launched the get-rich-quick scheme in 2017, promising high returns with low risk via flamboyant seminars and presentations. He peddled PGUC as a "hybrid crypto" that has a potential for massive growth.
Sahni claimed that his project features a "Script (PoW/PoS)"-powered decentralized crypto payment platform. Investors were told that they could earn PGUC coins through staking or mining via the platform's self-regulated financial system.
“Everything looked genuine… a nice website with our personal dashboard and presentations by the promoters that were slick and statistical graphs indicating projected growth,” Rajiv Sharma – a victim allegedly losing $52,000 in the scheme – told the news outlet SBS.
According to the Times of India, victims mostly paid Sahni in cash with many of the investors spending tens of thousands of dollars in the promise of high returns.
The STF had started investigating the case after the victims of the crypto Ponzi scheme had alerted both the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the office of India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
According to the Times of India, Sahni had planned to settle down in the Middle East before law enforcement authorities arrested him in India.
Investigators have found two properties on the scammer's name in Australia that are worth over $1.8 million in total – probably bought using investor funds.
It seems that Sahni and his accomplices had absolutely no conscience. One victim reported to the SBS that he had desperately needed money for his wife's medical care. His parents even mortgaged their agricultural land in India for $30,000 that he then invested in the fake crypto project.
However, he was fooled by the scammers who had introduced PGUC to the victim at a spiritual congregation in Sydney.
“They even came to meet my wife at the hospital and said ‘Bhavesh bhai, your money will be doubled in three months and you can easily pay the hospital bill. They knew why I needed the money and they still did this to me,” the victim stated.
Now he has nothing.