Maha man gets back Rs 36 lakh he lost to cryptocurrency fraud a year ago as police track down offender

A mobile shop owner residing in Maharashtra’s Thane district, who lost Rs 36 lakh in a cryptocurrency fraud more than a year ago, has got his entire amount back after the police cracked the case and found that a Chinese national was involved in the offence, an official said on Friday. The probe into the case was conducted by the cyber cell of the Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police commissionerate, he said.

Sujitkumar Gunjkar, senior inspector of the MBVV cyber cell, said the victim was lured into cryptocurrency trading in February 2022 after he joined a WhatsApp group involving cryptocurrency traders. The group administrator, a woman, got in touch with him and sought investments in the cryptocurrency promising goods returns. “Falling prey to the tactics, the victim invested the money through a mobile app and bought cryptocurrency worth USD 39,596,” he said.

However, in May last year, the WhatsApp group was stopped and despite several attempts, he failed to contact the group administrator, the official said. “The victim then realised that he has been cheated. After that, he approached the cyber police and lodged a complaint. A probe was launched and worked on various leads. During the process, the police came across OKX, a Seychelles-registered cryptocurrency exchange,” Gunjkar said.

During the probe, the police came across a suspicious cryptocurrency wallet. The police contacted OKX and came to know that the wallet belonged to a Chinese national, he added. A cryptocurrency wallet is software or hardware that comes in many shapes and sizes, enabling users to store and use cryptocurrency.

Based on the complaint and the inquiry, an offence under section 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered at the Kashimira police station, the official said. The cyber cell then approached the local court with the details of the offence and their findings. They informed the court that the victim’s money was in the wallet of the Chinese national and the numbers from which the victim was contacted were from Hong Kong, he said.

After going through the submissions made by the cyber cell, the court ordered that the Rs 36 lakh in the form of cryptocurrency be returned to the complainant. Accordingly, the amount was recovered and given back to the victim a couple of days back, he said.

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