New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Wednesday that it has taken possession of movable properties to the tune of Rs 55.36 crore in the form of balances available in the bank accounts and merchant IDs held by various shell and Chinese linked entities in the case of HPZ Token and others. The ED had conducted nationwide searches at 26 locations in 2022 and 18 locations in 2023, and has so far frozen amounts to the extent of Rs 176.67 crore in connection with the case.
The ED had filed an original application (OA) before the adjudicating authority in New Delhi. Thereafter, the adjudicating authority, under the provision of Section 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) upheld the freezing order issued by the ED and allowed retention of properties frozen under Section 17 of PMLA.
The ED initiated the PMLA probe based on an FIR registered by the cybercrime police station, Kohima, Nagaland, under various sections of IPC and Information Technology Act in relation to duping thousands of gullible investors in the garb of promise of astronomic returns on investing money for Bitcoin mining.
The modus operandi of the fraudsters was to first lure the victims to invest in the company on the pretext of doubling their investment through the app HPZ Token. Similarly, investments were also received fraudulently for online gaming and betting.
The ED investigation revealed that various bank accounts and merchant IDs were opened by several shell entities having dummy directors/proprietors only for the purpose of rotation/layering of proceeds of crime representing funds fraudulently received for illegal online gaming and betting and investment for Bitcoin mining.
For an investment of Rs 57,000, returns of Rs 4,000 per day for three months were promised but the money was paid only once and thereafter fresh funds were sought.
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