In a somewhat surprising twist, Amit Bhardwaj, the man behind the notorious Bitcoin Ponzi scheme, has pledged to pay back his victims in Indian rupees (INR) according to report on July 18, 2018.
The Schemer’s Path Towards Prison
Bhardwaj caught the attention of police and global media houses in April 2018, when the police arrested him for setting up an elaborate multi-level marketing scam in which he illegally acquired baffling $300 million.
Promising a highly inflated ten percent monthly return of bitcoin investments for 18 months under multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes such as Bitcoin Growth Fund, Bhardwaj tricked around 8,000 people in India who fell for the charms of the mastermind’s fairy tales about bitcoin.
Of course, the investors never saw a dime of their invested money again.
Bhardwaj established his bitcoin empire and the first online retail marketplace accepting bitcoin as a form of payment in 2014. One of his more popular bitcoin mining operations was “GainBitcoin,” which stated they had bitcoin mining operations in China.
The police arrested him on Delhi Airport on April 5, 2018. The police arrested seven of his closest associates in Bangkok before his arrest.
A lot of those he hurt with his scheming have filed police complaints demanding that they receive back the market value of their investments.
A victim noted:
“We want the returns in (today’s) cryptocurrency value and not the value of the cryptocurrency when we invested. Today, the Bitcoin price is much higher than what it was when we invested. It is like Bhardwaj will keep the profits and return the principal amount which is wrong.”
His victims include people all over India, including from Mumbai, Pune, Nanded, Kolhapur, and many others.
Among the first people to draw attention to Bhardwaj’s criminal intent was Zakhil Suresh, a cryptocurrency analyst from Mumbai. He had started a petition demanding that the authorities jail Bhardwaj. Moreover, he sent the appeal to the Delhi and Mumbai police commissioner.
“Bhardwaj had promised to pay 0.01 to 0.02 bitcoin every month. He said that in his platform there is no transaction cost. We had no reason to suspect him because he was seen as a bitcoin revolutionary,” Suresh tells his story.
According to the media in India, in June 2018, the Pune police, whose officers arrested Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek, filed a 4,000-page charge in the case. In connection to this scandal, the Nanded Police has filed a similar charge sheet.
In May 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had opened a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against GainBitcoin, Amit Bhardwaj, and eight others based on an FIR (First Information Report) by Maharashtra police.
The Silver Lining
However, every cloud has a silver lining, and this story is not all black-and-white. Despite the apparent malicious intent, we can credit Bhardwaj for one thing. He did have a significant role in introducing bitcoin to the Indian investors, traders, and users.