ED Seizes Millions in Indian Rupees in Crypto Ponzi Scheme Investigation

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in India has made a significant breakthrough in a crypto-based money-laundering investigation, seizing a total of 327 million Indian rupees from HighRich Online Group. The ED conducted searches in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Kerala states, uncovering 320 million rupees in bank funds and an additional 7 million rupees in cash.

HighRich Online Group, the target of the investigation, is said to be involved in cryptocurrency trading and Ponzi-type marketing schemes. The company allegedly offered lucrative incentives for bringing in new investors, including a 30% bonus and 15% yearly returns. Despite attracting approximately 1,500 crore rupees from investors in a multi-level marketing scheme, there was no actual product involved in the trade.

During the searches at 14 different locations, the ED also identified additional criminal activities totaling 15 crore rupees. The frozen funds, which belonged to the company, its promoters, and their families, included cash, jewelry, and four cars. The investigation revealed that the company sold memberships in the form of digital IDs, which members then resold for commissions.

An ED source described the operation as a typical Ponzi scheme, stating, “There is no real underlying business of sale of goods.” The agency found that out of the funds raised, 250 crore rupees were distributed as rewards, while the remaining amount was misused by the promoters, KD and Sreena Prathapan, through family members and other organizations.

In a previous operation in January, the ED had frozen 212 crore rupees in alleged proceeds of crime after searching the locations of HighRich Smartech Pvt. Ltd., HighRich Online Shoppe Pvt. Ltd., and related companies. In total, 260 crore rupees have now been frozen or seized in connection with the case.

The investigation into HighRich Online Group’s activities underscores the growing concerns surrounding cryptocurrency-related crimes in India. The ED’s actions serve as a warning to those engaging in illegal financial activities, highlighting the agency’s commitment to combating money laundering and fraudulent schemes in the country.