The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Odisha police has unearthed a pan-India crypto currency-based Ponzi scam involving money of more than Rs 1000 crore, a police official said on Monday.
The EOW has arrested the head of STA Crypto Token namely Gurtej Sigh Sidhu (40), from Sri-Ganganagar, Rajasthan and its Odisha unit head Nirod Das. Sidhu is a native of Faridkot, Punjab and Nirod belongs to Bhadrak district of Odisha.
Sidhu was frequently changing his location in places like Goa, Lonavala, Mumbai, Delhi, Faridkot, Bhatinda, Hanumangadh and Sri Ganganagar. A team of EOW led by DSP Sasmita Sahoo was tracking his movement and finally able to arrest him, said an EOW official.
Acting on an intelligence input that a crypto currency-based Ponzi scam is being run in Odisha especially in Bhadrak, Balasore, Bhubaneswar, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Kendrapada and Keonjhar districts, the EOW has conducted an enquiry.
During the investigation, the EOW found that STA through some upline members are very active in these districts and they have been using various propaganda tools to persuade people to join in this scheme and earn huge money in a very short time.
The members have started using the STA Token like a legal tender in their day to day business. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people from Odisha have already been members of this scheme. This Ponzi scheme has more than 2 lakh members (Pan India) mainly in the states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Assam, the official informed.
STA (Solar Techno Alliance) was launched in September 2021. In its website & social media accounts it claims to be a one stop solar technologies service.
Though STA is not authorized by RBI or any other authorities to collect deposits, it runs a huge Ponzi (Pyramid) scheme in the garb of crypto tokens. The firm uses the socially popular terms like green energy, solar technology etc. to mask its crypto-Ponzi scam.
The STA website is hosted from Iceland but its business and activity is limited to India only and it is headed by one David Gez, a young Hungarian (Europe) national who has visited India multiple times.
According to the EOW, both David and Gurtej Sidhu have travelled to many places in India including Odisha and have attended various STA programs. They are always seen using luxurious lifestyles like star hotels, expensive cars, fancy clothes, surrounded by bouncers, hero’s welcome in meetings etc.
The Ponzi firm conducts several publicity programs at various places to spread its membership. They use fancy hotels, motivational speakers, music, lunch/dinner etc. in such meetings to brainwash future members.
Last week STA had a grand celebration in a luxurious star hotel in Goa. More than 1,000 up-line members including many from Odisha attended this meeting. Film star Govinda attended the chief guest of this meeting and released some video promoting/endorsing STA, the EOW official said.
The modus operandi of the STA is to lure members making a promise that they will earn $20 to $3000 per day if they join this scheme and add more members under them.
Transactions (credit & debit) of more than Rs 30 crore was noticed in the bank account of Nirod Das, Odisha head of STA. Also, there is a huge cash deposits in his accounts which indicates that lots of black money is routed/ parked in this scam. All the accounts have been frozen.
The EOW estimated that more than Rs 1000 crore was involved (Pan India) in the scam. It has advised investors and also the film stars or celebrities to check the credentials of the company/organization before investing or promoting such schemes.