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HomeLaw & PoliticsIndia's ED Seizes ₹90 Crore in Crypto in E-Nugget Scam Crackdown

India’s ED Seizes ₹90 Crore in Crypto in E-Nugget Scam Crackdown

May 1, 2024 — The Enforcement Directorate (ED) of India has taken a significant step in a major money laundering case by seizing frozen cryptocurrency assets valued at nearly ₹90 crore. These assets were held in 70 accounts across prominent cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance, ZebPay, and WazirX. The digital assets have now been transferred to the agency’s own crypto wallet for safekeeping.

The ED’s action targets the operators of the E-Nugget app, an online platform initially presented as a gaming app. This includes the alleged mastermind of the scam, Aamir Khan, along with his associate Romen Agarwal, both of whom are currently in judicial custody.

The E-Nugget app, under the guise of a gaming platform, enticed users with promises of high returns on investments through engaging games designed for real-money wagering. However, the agency claims this was a front for an elaborate scam that culminated in substantial financial losses for its users, as the app ceased operations abruptly, freezing withdrawals and erasing user data from its servers.

The scam was uncovered in 2022, and subsequent investigations led to the recent seizure of assets. The ongoing probe has resulted in various assets being attached, seized, or frozen, including properties worth more than ₹163 crore, which comprise cash, cryptocurrencies, account balances, and office spaces.

The operations and subsequent legal actions are centered in India, with the scam affecting numerous investors across the country. The involved crypto exchanges are global entities but were used as platforms to hold the ill-gotten gains.

The ED initiated this crackdown following a First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Kolkata police, which outlined the illegal activities conducted through the E-Nugget app. The primary motivation behind the ED’s stringent actions is to dismantle the financial network supporting this fraudulent scheme and to recover funds for the affected investors.

The investigation into the scam involved analyzing nearly 2,500 mule or dummy bank accounts and conducting extensive searches which led to the discovery and seizure of ₹19 crore in cash. Additionally, searches across 66 bank accounts resulted in the freezing of an additional ₹2.43 crore.

This case highlights the increasing challenges and actions taken by financial regulatory bodies to combat the misuse of digital platforms and cryptocurrencies in perpetrating financial frauds and schemes. The ED’s proactive measures in this case reflect a broader commitment to ensuring financial integrity and protecting investors from sophisticated online scams.

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