Mastermind behind Indian crypto fraud project arrested at Delhi airport

The Indian man is said to have defrauded investors with a fraudulent cryptocurrency by 25 million rupees.

A 60-year-old man was on Thursday at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi arrested . He is accused of being the mastermind of a 25 million rupee ($ 340,000) crypto fraud project.

Former jewelry and postcard maker Umesh Verma was arrested by the Delhi Police Department’s Economic Crimes Division after returning to India from Dubai

Verma and his son Bharat are believed to have persuaded hundreds of people to invest in a fraudulent crypto project called Pluto Exchange, which has promised monthly returns of 20-30%.

To this end, the project issued a supposed “cryptocurrency” called Coin Zarus, which investors bought in return for their investments. Shortly after the pyramid scheme started operating in November 2017, however, no more returns were paid out and Verma disappeared from the scene. In 2018 he reappeared in Dubai.

The Delhi Police filed a money embezzlement charge against Verma in September 2020, on the basis of which he was arrested on New Year’s Eve

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the Pluto Exchange had also launched India’s first trading app for cryptocurrencies, which supposedly allowed Bitcoin ( BTC ) to be traded via smartphone.

Verma was already in custody for gold smuggling in December 2017, but this is not related to the current case.

The legal use of cryptocurrencies is currently still in a difficult position in India, because although the Indian Constitutional Court lifted a possible crypto ban by the country’s central bank in 2020 , many investors still see considerable hurdles for entering the crypto market.