India: Bitcoin Scammer Offers to Return Initial Investments of his Victims

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Amit Bhardwaj, the arrested self-proclaimed Bitcoin entrepreneur accused of duping thousands by promising hefty returns on Bitcoin investment, has told investigators that he is willing to return the principal amount owed to investors.

However, Bhardwaj refused the allegation that he promised his investors a guaranteed profit all the times. The accused in the high-profile Bitcoin Ponzi scheme also declined any possibility of him returning the fiat equivalent of the Bitcoins purchased from his three firms Gain Bitcoin, GB21, and GB Miner.

Bitcoin Scammer Confesses to Indian Agencies

Citing unnamed sources, the Indian Express reported on August 28, 2018, that Bhardwaj has already  “confessed during interrogation that he had invited the people to invest in his three firms but he never gave any guarantee to them that they would always make a profit.”

He also claimed that a considerable number of investors, including the pair that lodged complaints against him, had once earned profit from their investment with his three firms.

Meanwhile, the judge hearing the case remanded both Bhardwaj and his associate Pankaj Adlakha further six days in police custody on Monday. Two more co-accused in the case, including Hemant Bhope and Amit’s brother Vivek Bhardwaj, was remanded in judicial custody.  

“Amit Bhardwaj repeatedly claimed that he is capable of returning the amount of the investors but this is not the part of our investigation. We have collected documents showing transactions of money from the side of investors in the companies of Amit Bhardwaj,” said DSP (Cyber) Rashmi Yadav Sharma.

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Pune Police has further stated that in some of the cases, investors were made to put their money into Bhardwaj’s firm not directly, but through a shell company. The owner of the shell company, a person called Sanchit, has already been detained and is currently lodged in Burail jail.

Pune Police has further claimed to have tracked five more people who may have played key roles in the scam. Four of these suspects are from New Delhi and one from Manali, Himachal Pradesh. They are likely to be arrested soon.

Duped Investors Demand Full Return

This is not the first time when the accused has promised a return of the initial investments made by all the victims who suffered losses. He offered the same earlier this July, although it didn’t go down well with some of the investors. Most of the complainants, who lodged cases against Bhardwaj and his accomplishes in different cities including Pune, Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai, among others, declined the offer saying they wish to have the current market valuation of their investments.

One of the victims who chose to remain anonymous citing pending investigation said:

“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 just return the principal amount which is wrong.”

On a related note, Zebpay, one of India’s largest crypto trading platforms, has reportedly agreed to help with the ongoing investigation after being asked by the Pune Police for assistance. A sizeable part of the transactions between Bhardwaj and his investors took place via Zebpay.