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ED Investigates Bollywood Star’s Link to $800 Million Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme

India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is delving into a money laundering case related to the ‘Gain Bitcoin’ cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme, with prominent businessman Raj Kundra, husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, under scrutiny. Although Kundra isn’t the primary suspect, assets totaling around $12 million, including a Mumbai flat owned by Shilpa Shetty, have been seized.

Launched in 2017 by Ajay Bhardwaj and Mahendra Bhardwaj, ‘Gain Bitcoin’ lured investors with promises of 10% monthly returns in Bitcoin, accumulating approximately $800 million. Initially, returns were distributed from new investments, but as recruitment stalled, payouts ceased. Remaining funds were converted into Bitcoin and stashed in anonymous wallets.

Investigations have uncovered that Kundra received 285 Bitcoins worth $18 million from Amit Bhardwaj, the scheme’s promoter, allegedly for a Ukrainian Bitcoin mining project that never materialized.

Kundra and Shetty have refuted any involvement, expressing confidence in being exonerated once the investigation concludes.

This scandal surfaces amid heightened scrutiny by Indian regulators on cryptocurrency-related frauds. Last month, the ED filed charges against 299 entities under stringent anti-money laundering laws, targeting frauds linked to crypto mining ventures.

Moreover, a new trend has emerged in Indian cryptocurrency scams, with fraudsters posing as job recruiters, targeting unsuspecting individuals with fake promises of cryptocurrency-related roles, only to deceive them.

As Indian authorities intensify their crackdown on crypto-related illicit activities, the ‘Gain Bitcoin’ case underscores the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency scams, necessitating heightened vigilance from investors and regulators alike.

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