In a major breakthrough, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Odisha police has successfully exposed a nationwide cryptocurrency-based Ponzi scam that has swindled over Rs 1000 crore. This shocking revelation comes alongside the arrest of two key individuals allegedly involved in orchestrating the elaborate financial fraud.
The EOW’s relentless efforts culminated in the apprehension of Gurtej Singh Sidhu (40), the India head of ‘STA Crypto Token,’ and Nirod Das, the Odisha unit head. Sidhu, hailing from Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan and a native of Faridkot in Punjab, had been constantly evading authorities by changing his location across various cities, including Goa, Lonavala, Mumbai, Delhi, Faridkot, Bhatinda, Hanumangadh, and Sri Ganganagar. However, the EOW’s meticulous tracking ultimately led to his capture.
This sweeping crackdown was triggered by intelligence inputs pointing towards a cryptocurrency Ponzi scam running rampant across Odisha, particularly in districts such as Bhadrak, Balasore, Bhubaneswar, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Kendrapada, and Keonjhar. The scam revolved around ‘STA Crypto Token,’ and its operators had allegedly been employing an array of tactics to lure unsuspecting individuals into joining their dubious scheme.
The investigation uncovered that the scam’s perpetrators had propagated STA as a revolutionary solar technology enterprise. Despite being devoid of any authorization from regulatory bodies like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the scheme managed to ensnare more than 10,000 people in Odisha alone. The tendrils of this intricate fraud extended pan-India, with a staggering 2 lakh members spanning states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Assam, and, of course, Odisha.
STA (Solar Techno Alliance) had initially presented itself as a reputable solar technology service provider, touting green energy solutions. However, the investigation revealed that the company’s primary focus was its cryptocurrency-based pyramid scheme. Operating under the guise of ‘crypto tokens,’ STA managed to convince members to view these tokens as a form of legitimate currency for daily transactions.
The scam’s masterminds, including David Gez, a Hungarian national, and Gurtej Singh Sidhu, are alleged to have traversed the country promoting their fraudulent enterprise. In their lavish pursuits, they were often seen indulging in opulent lifestyles, replete with luxury cars, extravagant attire, and even personal security personnel.
The Ponzi scheme employed elaborate publicity programs, often hosted in luxurious hotels, complete with motivational speakers, music, and lavish meals. These gatherings served as platforms to manipulate and brainwash potential victims into joining the scheme, exploiting their dreams of quick and substantial earnings.
Recent revelations have cast an even darker shadow over the scheme, as it was exposed that transactions totaling over Rs 30 crore were traced to Nirod Das, the Odisha head of STA. Additionally, his bank accounts were inundated with significant cash deposits, raising suspicions of money laundering and the presence of substantial black money within the scam.
The extent of this crypto Ponzi scam’s impact has left a trail of shattered dreams and financial ruin for countless individuals. Authorities have sounded a warning to potential investors and public figures, urging them to exercise utmost caution and due diligence when approached by such schemes or considering endorsements.
As the investigation unfolds and the full scope of this elaborate financial deception becomes clear, it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of staying informed, skeptical, and vigilant in the face of enticing but potentially perilous financial ventures.