CHENNAI: The mysterious world of crypto-currencies is a challenge that even the “tech-savvy” find difficult to comprehend. A Bengaluru-based man, who was allegedly cheated of Rs 2 crore, was arrested in Chennai for threatening and extorting Rs 15 lakh in a botched retaliation attempt. The real culprit is still at large.
Ramesh Reddy of Bengaluru is a distributor of Ayurvedic medicines. His friend Prabakaran, a native of Tirupur, is a real estate agent. A few months back, Ramesh met a person who introduced himself as Naresh. The latter claimed to be in possession of virtual currency worth Rs 33 crore.
“He promised 50 per cent of that money to Ramesh, only if he found a person who could convert the online currency into Indian Rupees,” Adyar DCP V Vikraman said. “Ramesh sought the help of Prabakaran, who made contact with a Chennai-based techie, Mohan, through a common friend.” “They persuaded Mohan to open an e-wallet on the promise of being paid one percent commission (Rs 33 lakh).”
As the money was held as Bitcoins in the US, it cannot be directly transferred to India. Hence, Mohan opened an account for his friend in the UK and planned to route the money from there to India. Ramesh then transferred Rs 2 crore virtual currency to that UK account. The money vapourised at that point, i.e., it neither reached the UK account nor came back.
“Mohan then realised that the e-wallet accounts, ‘Swift Global Pay’ and ‘Insta Merchant Pay’, were fraudulent. Naresh, who made this entire proposal, was a fraud,” the DCP added. But, Ramesh and Prabakaran were not ready to believe Mohan. They thought he was trying to escape with the money. “In August, a month after all this happened, Ramesh and Prabakaran visited Mohan.
They threatened to kill Mohan if he did not return the money.” Scared, Mohan pledged his wife’s jewels for Rs 10 lakh, took a loan for Rs 5.50 lakh in cash and paid the duo. However, when they continued with their threats, he approached the police. The duo were arrested from a lodge.