The incredible bitcoin price rally this year has attracted a lot of new people to the cryptocurrency world, many of them just looking to make a quick buck without understanding too much what they are getting into. Naturally this kind of situation attracts criminals that look to exploit it, the most recent example being a gang in India.
Local Bitcoins Gang
The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) has announced it recently busted a gang targeting local people interested in trading bitcoin. The alleged criminals used the Localbitcoins service find their victims, offered them discounts from the going rates to entice them into sending fiat and than never deliver the bitcoin. The police say they were flooded with multiple complaints based on the same operational method which prompted them to take action.
“There are sites where people can trade in cryptocurrency where both buyers and sellers are available. The gang first lured traders to purchase the Bitcoins at low prices and even transferred some into their e-wallets to win their trust,” said the head of the STF’s cyber wing, superintendent Triveni Singh.
“After this, the fraudsters got the original currency transferred into their bank accounts, opened on forged identities, when the traders demanded bigger amount of Bitcoins. They disappear after withdrawing money from their bank account,” police officer Singh added.
While the police acted to protect bitcoin investors in this case, it could be the authorities’ fault that such cases will continue to happen in India. This is because the country’s bitcoin exchanges are currently facing the threat of a government crackdown, investigating their records for potentially facilitating tax evasion by ‘high net worth’ individuals.
Indian demand for bitcoin is booming these days, trade volume shows, leading people to even ask it as their wedding gift. If the legitimate online exchanges become too burdened with heavy handed regulations, or won’t be allowed to operate freely at all, as some fear might happen, offline trading will surely fill the gap.
How do you make sure not to be taken advantage of when trading bitcoin offline? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Author: Avi Mizrahi