The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Odisha Police on Monday claimed to have unearthed a Crypto Ponzi scam worth Rs 1,000 crore.
The EOW arrested Gurtej Singh Sidhu, (40), the Indian head of ‘STA Crypto token’, a Ponzi firm from Sri-Ganganagar, Rajasthan.
The EOW in a statement said that Gurtej is a native of Faridkot, Punjab. He was produced before a court in Sri Ganganagar and the court granted seven days of transit remand. He was brought to Odisha on Monday and will be produced before a court in Cuttack.
Stating that he was frequently changing his location in Goa, Lonavala, Mumbai, Delhi, Faridkot, Bhatinda, Hanumangadh and Sri Ganganagar, the EOW said that a team led by DSP Sasmita Sahoo tracked his location before arresting him.
The EOW also arrested one Nirod Das of Bhadrak who is the Odisha head of STA. Earlier the EOW had registered a case in this regard.
After getting intelligence from various sources that a cryptocurrency-based ponzi scam is being run in Odisha, especially in Bhadrak, Balasore, Bhubaneswar, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Kendrapada and Keonjhar districts, an enquiry was conducted.
During the enquiry it was found that STA through some upline members are very active in these districts and they have been using various propaganda tools to persuade people to join in this scheme and earn huge money in a very short time, the EOW said.
It was found that members have started using the STA token as a legal tender in their day-to-day business. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people from Odisha have already been members of this scheme.
This scam has more than two lakh members (pan India) mainly in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Assam.
Solar Techno Alliance( STA) was launched in September 2021. On its website and social media accounts it claims to be a “one-stop Solar Technologies service that enables users to order anything they like from the nearest farmers in the shortest amount of time using blockchain technology”.
However, during the investigation, it was revealed that STA is not authorized by RBI or any other authorities to collect deposits. It runs a huge Ponzi scheme in the garb of Crypto Token. STA uses socially popular terms like green energy, solar technology, etc, to mask its Crypto-Ponzi scam, it said.
The STA’s website is hosted from Iceland but its business activity is limited to India. It is headed by one David Gez a young Hungarian national who has visited India multiple times, the EOW said, adding that Gurtej Singh Sidhu heads India operation.
Both David Gez and Gurtej Sidhu have travelled to many places in India including Odisha and have attended various STA programmes. “Members are promised that they will earn $20 (roughly Rs. 1,656) to $3000 (roughly Rs. 2.48 lakh) per day if they join this scheme and add more members under them, the EOW said in a statement.