The Indian Enforcement Directorate (ED), had seized crypto assets worth over $5 million (36.72 crore rupees) in connection with the ongoing investigation into a major cryptocurrency scam.
In a recent report by a local media outlet, the ED seized a total of $5,140,800 worth of digital assets, including BTC, ETH, ADA, BNB, and USDT, out of the $168 million worth of crypto involved in the notorious Morris Coin scam.
The Morris Coin Saga
Created by the 31-year-old Nashid K, Morris Coin was an elaborate fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme, touted to be the next-generation cryptocurrency.
Given the impressive performance of cryptocurrencies in the past few years, unsuspecting investors quickly got on board the scheme, hoping to make massive profits from their investments.
The scheme solicited deposits from investors in the guise of an initial coin offering (ICO), which it claimed would be used for the official launch of the Morris Coin crypto.
Investors were promised high returns, about 3% of their invested amounts daily. Additionally, after a 300-day lock-in period, investors would receive Morris Coin worth any amount they invested which they could sell on major crypto exchanges.
Per the report, the scheme attracted most of its investors by holding promotional events that were attended by several top celebrities and “flashy websites”
As with every other scam, the Morris Coin platform paid its initial investors promptly, within a short time. Some who were initially skeptical were motivated to join and the other investors reinvested their money on the platform, hoping to make more.
However, the over 900 Morris Coin investors who had raised a whopping $168 million (1,200 crore rupees) were in for a big shock as the platform turned out to be a massive scam.
The ED quickly launched an investigation into the case following a first information report (FIR) registered by the Kerala Police under the Indian Penal Code.
Subsequently, several other FIRs surfaced and were registered by the police departments in other districts.
Shortly after investigations began, the ED discovered that Nashid operated three shell companies, including Long Rich Global, Long Rich Technologies, and Morris Trading Solutions, to collect the deposits made by investors towards the Morris Coin ICO.
A further probe into these shell companies revealed that the funds collected from investors were used to purchase several immovable properties, luxury cars, premium hotels and resorts, and cryptocurrencies.
The ED promptly seized those assets belonging to Nashid and his accomplices, arresting seven people connected to the case.
“The cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, BTC, BNB, YFI, VET, ADA, and USDT, totally valued at INR 25,82,794, were found. These were purchased out of proceeds of crime. During the probe, all the above cryptocurrencies purchased were converted into INR and transferred to the bank account by the owner of these coins,” the statement read.
Nashid is still at large as he had disappeared into thin air after getting bail following his arrest in connection with the scam earlier in 2020 before the authorities discovered the scope of the scam.
Crypto scams have been on the increase in recent times as a survey published in Dec. 2021 revealed that investors lost over $7.7 billion in last year alone.