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Kerala man swindles over 1,200cr from 900 people through fake crypto

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Kerala man swindles over 1,200cr from 900 people through fake crypto
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Thiruvananthapuram: A man from Kerala deceived around 900 people and siphoned more than Rs 1,200 crore by making them invest in an initial public offering purchase for fake crypto coins, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed on Wednesday. ED said the investment drive happened in 2020 during the lockdown, The Indian Express reported.

Nishad from Pookkottumpadam village in Malappuram district is chief accused of the scam, but he had fled the country after obtaining anticipatory bail from High Court for various police cases.

ED had taken the case last year after Kannur and Malappuram police registered many cases against Nishad and others under IPC Section 420 and Prize Chis and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act.

ED said that the scam victims bought a fake cryptocurrency, Morris Coin, listed with the Coimbatore-based cryptocurrency Franc Exchange. This was done in the manner of initial public offering purchase. Ten Morris Coins were valued at Rs 15,000 with a lock-in period of 300 days.

Investors were given an e-wallet and convinced that coin value would skyrocket when traded in exchange. But Morris Coin promoters took the investors money and invested it in real estate in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, without showing the source, ED said.

Regarding the case, ED conducted raids in 11 premises in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Delhi during the last few days. Those were firms such as Long Rich Technologies, Morris Trading Solutions and others linked to the scam racket.

Malayalam actor Unni Mukundan's Unni Mukundan Films Pvt. Ltd, as well as Nextel Group, were included in the raided premises in Kerala. ED claimed that Mukundan has connections with Nishad.

However, Mukundan told the media that the ED search was about a film production company he had launched. ED asked for the source of income for the launch, and he provided it, Mukundan said.

The Bengaluru-based firms Long Rich Technologies, Long Rich Trading and Long Rich Global first lured investors by saying they have an online education app. Then, they projected Morris Coin. The scam racket also ran a Ponzi Scheme, and this came to the limelight after many investors approached police complaining about the stoppage in transferring the promised returns.

ED, who only identified Nishad among the suspects, said that none of the suspects has any financial or educational background. They had shell companies in the three southern states, boasted about connections with celebrities from different fields and attracted investors through promotional events.

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