Evidently each time a brand new expertise emerges, so too do ne’er-do-wells looking for to use that expertise for their very own acquire. Cryptocurrencies aren’t any exception. Bitcoin’s meteoric rise final December led to an entire slew of hacks and scams being perpetrated world wide. Of late, India has been experiencing its personal crypto crime wave that exhibits no indicators of abating anytime quickly.
Scams, Bamboozles, and Hoodwinks
2018 goes to be one for the document books. Within the first half of this 12 months alone, greater than $2 billion has been misplaced to cryptocurrency alternate hacks and scams. India, particularly, appears to be experiencing a spate of crypto-related crimes.
As in most different components of the world, the rise in reputation of cryptocurrencies in India brings with it no scarcity of criminals keen to use traders. When cryptocurrencies had been first taking off within the Asian subcontinent, scams had been largely restricted to phishing hyperlinks and key-stealing malware. Then got here ransomware – malware that encrypts or in any other case locks necessary information on a person’s system till a ransom is paid – and mining malware.
As costs started to rise, fraudsters received extra inventive. Pretend apps and social media accounts started to emerge, as did multi-level advertising (MLM) ponzi scams like BitConnect. Unscrupulous fraudsters have discovered simple pickings making the most of new traders desirous to “strike it wealthy” with a expertise of which they’ve little to no understanding.
Essentially the most notorious crypto rip-off in India to this point was GainBitcoin, based by Amit Bhardwaj in 2013. Working as a multi-level advertising firm, GainBitcoin promised customers an exorbitant 10% month-to-month return on their investments plus bonuses for each individual an investor signed up beneath them. The rip-off reportedly defrauded 1000’s of traders out of an estimated Rs 2,000 crore – $296 million at present charges.
India’s Embattled Relationship with Bitcoin
Whereas nations like Switzerland, Malta, and Belarus have embraced cryptocurrencies with open arms, India stays at loggerheads with the expertise. Throughout his finances speech in February 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was bluntly clear on the federal government’s stance on cryptocurrencies:
The federal government doesn’t recognise cryptocurrency as authorized tender or coin and can take all measures to get rid of using these cryptoassets in financing illegitimate actions or as a part of the funds system.
India turned the screws on crypto much more when, in April 2018, the RBI (Reserve Financial institution of India) banned all banks and different RBI-regulated entities from “[dealing] with or [providing] providers to any particular person or enterprise entities coping with or settling [virtual currencies].” Within the wake of the ban, some crypto exchanges shut down altogether whereas others contemplated relocating operations to friendlier climes.
If the RBI thinks that the ban will stifle curiosity in cryptocurrency inside the nation, they’re in for a disappointment. Regardless of the ban, India nonetheless accounts for roughly 10% of the Bitcoin market and 6% of the full cryptocurrency market. Sarcastically, commerce quantity really elevated following the RBI’s announcement. Some folks attribute the rise to traders scrambling to benefit from the Three-month grace interval earlier than the ban goes into impact whereas others credit score the tenacity of the nation’s a number of million crypto traders.