Amit Bharadwaj, the mastermind behind GainBitcoin scam, also operated another scam called CoinBank. In an explosive telephonic interview, Shrikant Sonune, an investor who was trapped by Bharadwaj told about the shocking detail.
Sonune said, “As you may know, many of us had invested in GainBitcoin in May 2017, where we had sent bitcoin to the company that promised to pay us 10% returns on the invested amount. Apart from that, there was also another company called CoinBank where in we were instructed to send bitcoin to an account, with a promise that we would receive 1.03 BTC.”
Coinbank functioned like this: There were three wallets created for the investor:
1) Personal wallet
2) CoinBank wallet
3) Fixed deposit wallet.
The investors were told that the matured amount of bitcoin would be credited to the fixed deposit wallet at the end of 3 months.
Sonune said, “I sent 1 BTC to the CoinBank account. Although I sent 1 BTC and received the letter stating that I will receive my matured amount in my fixed deposit wallet, it was never transferred to my personal wallet.”
Another person who is a part of spearheading this case against Amit Bharadwaj, wished to be anonymous told, “More than 3 lakh investors’ bitcoin has been stolen. Media has been reporting that it is 8,000 investors but the numbers are incorrect. Bharadwaj had stated in a promotional message that he has 1.5 lakh investors. In Maharashtra, alone there were 10,000-20,000 investors who had been scammed and the amount was Rs 20,000 crore.”
He added that they were pressing for Bharadwaj to reimburse the principal amount of bitcoin, as opposed to INR because, in the longer run, that would help the Indian government.
Another reason stated was, if they invested in BTC, then they should get BTC back and not INR as per the BTC value at the time of investment.
Talking about Zebpay’s involvement the source said, that the bitcoin sent from investors were sent to a wallet on the exchange. He opined that it could be that the exchange was not aware of any wrongdoing, but it could also likely that it was in collaboration with Bharadwaj, because the latter has a lot of clout.
The source said, “The Pune police is unable to use any kind of force because Bharadwaj allegedly has a kidney-related ailment. Since this crime is among the first of bitcoin-related crime, the police are unsure of how to go about the case.”
He said that he had to run around a lot to get the police to file a First Information Report (FIR). There was nobody that the investors had not approached. They had written to everybody from Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to even, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The letter, which has access to, stated that this whole rigamarole was started in a bid to promote the Prime Minister’s Digital India. After demonetization took place in 2016, many people had converted their black money into bitcoin. Bharadwaj reportedly convinced people to invest their bitcoin in GainBitcoin. The letter also states that Bharadwaj laundered his money in many countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Belgium, England and so on.
(The cities where FIR was filed against Amit Bharadwaj)
Sonune said, that the bitcoin hard fork took place sometime after this. Reportedly, the investors had neither received Bitcoin Gold nor Bitcoin Cash from Bharadwaj.