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Alleged ‘kingpin’ of a 25M rupee Indian crypto scam arrested at Delhi airport

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A 60 year-old man was arrested at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on Dec. 31, for allegedly heading a 25 million rupee ($340,000) cryptocurrency scam.

Umesh Verma, a former jeweller and greeting card maker, was held by the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi police after arriving from Dubai.

Police allege that Verma, along with his son Bharat, convinced hundreds to invest in a scheme going by the name of Pluto Exchange, promising monthly returns of 20 to 30%.

The scheme issued a ‘cryptocurrency’ called Coin Zarus in exchange for investments. However, shortly after the scheme launched in November 2017, returns dried up and Verma reportedly dropped off the radar, eventually resurfacing in Dubai in 2018.

Delhi police filed a case of misappropriation of funds against Verma in September this year, leading to his New Year’s Eve arrest.

According to a report by the Hindustan Times, Pluto Exchange also launched India’s first mobile app for cryptocurrency, promising the ability to buy, sell and store Bitcoin (BTC) using only a mobile number.

Verma had previously been arrested in December 2017 over an unrelated gold smuggling case.

The Indian Supreme Court this year lifted a central bank ban on banks dealing with cryptocurrency firms. However, a recent survey suggested that most investors in the country still see no easy way to gain exposure to crypto assets.

First published here

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