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Cryptocurrency scams on the rise

Hyderabad: The recent suicide in Suryapet, by a man who lost Rs 70 lakh to cryptocurrency fraud, could be just the tip of the iceberg. According to conservative guesstimates by police officials, people in the three Commissionerates of Hyderabad, Rachakonda and Cyberabad have lost at least Rs 9 crore in just one month to the latest threat in the world of online fraud.

Cryptocurrency investors are increasingly being targeted by cyber fraudsters, with very few approaching the police after realising that they were cheated, while some have either kept quiet or like the man in Suryapet, resorted to extreme steps. There have been 15 complaints lodged in the capital region in the last one month, with the amount lost running into over Rs 9 crore, officials said.

According to police officials, fraudsters exploiting the craze in cryptocurrency promise higher returns each day, for buying and investments on cryptocurrencies. They also assure investors to trade on their behalf and transfer profits into their accounts directly. They also assure them that the currency can be easily withdrawn. This tension-free and no-risk investment option is attracting many.

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G Ramalingaswamy (36) from Khammam, allegedly killed himself by consuming poison at a lodge in Suryapet after losing nearly Rs 70 lakh to crypto fraudsters. “Those who fall in their trap and start investing in cryptocurrency are initially given good returns. Eventually, fraudsters block the accounts and scoot,” a Hyderabad Cybercrime official said.

Preliminary investigations into such frauds indicated it was the work of inter-State gangs from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Mumbai.

“Their main targets are mostly youngsters, business persons, students and IT employees and working professionals. They contact these people through various modes of online and offline including social media, phone calls, e-mails, SMSs and lure them into investing,” the official said.

Investigations also revealed that certain gangs have been maintaining closed WhatsApp groups with secret names indicating cryptocurrency investments and adding hundreds of investors from various States as participants. The fraudsters and their accomplices have conversations regarding cryptocurrency investments in the groups luring them.

“They share daily updates on cryptocurrency investment profit and loss. They share templates giving out instances of investments and high returns, this luring the members. Once the participants fall into the trap, they contact them to invest in cryptocurrency, they make them download fake investment apps and invest money in them to start trading. The access to the account mostly will be kept with the fraudsters who give fake profit updates,” an official said.

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