The crime branch of India’s financial capital busted a multi-million cryptocurrency scam on June 5, 2018.
Operating under the guise of a real estate company since 2016, The Flintstone group sold a lifestyle of Carribean homes and promised citizenships in African countries to disgruntled investors on the pretext of letting them in on a “soon-to-be-legal” cryptocurrency – the MoneyTradeCoin (MTC).
Used as a bait for investors, the group assured that putting more money in the coin would increase the chances of citizenship, and subsequently equate to higher returns. With this, the company was able to siphon hundreds of crores of Indian Rupees (worth tens of millions of U.S. dollars).
Investors’ Suspicions Aroused
As per the Mumbai Police, a group of businessmen alerted authorities earlier this year about the fraudulent business. Collectively, they had invested over Rs 1.7 crore (US$ 253,130) in the real estate firm and were promised of high returns. However, their suspicions were aroused when Flintstone group executives gave no answers to their questions and frequently missed payout dates.
Allegedly, the racket ran under the noses of policemen, with the Mumbai Police stating that several were involved in the business in return of commissions. Currently, their roles are being probed.
On June 4, policemen raided the firm’s offices and detained two people involved with the fraudulent company. The alleged mastermind of the operation – Flintstone Group managing director Amit Lakhanpal – remains absconding and the police suspect that he may have been alerted about the raids several days prior, and fled the country in a bid to escape authorities.
Meanwhile, over 70 employees have nowhere to go to, and the police are questioning their involvement in the matter.
A senior police officer from Thane crime branch unit 1 said:
Employees here were using MTC. Pal and his associates promised investors a 20-times return on investment in a mere six months. But once the deadline passed, the company made several excuses to not release the money.
Celebrities, Politicians May be Involved
According to an officer, the raid unearthed several photos of Lakhanpal with Mumbai’s celebrities and politicians, sparking off the question if there were well-connected people involved in the scam as well.
The business seemingly has interests in Dubai, with the MTC supposedly sold as “an intellectual property jointly owned by Dubai based firm Bitcoin Global FZE, UAE.”
The police have registered a case under several sections of Indian Penal Code, Maharashtra Protection of Investors and Depositors (MPID) Act, and the Chit Fund Act.
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