Indian authorities track down prolific ‘Kassh coin’ crypto scammer

Authorities in India have finally caught up with a prolific cryptocurrency scam artist, alleged to have been involved in a number of scams affecting dozens of investors in the country.

In a major coup for law enforcement agencies, Asif Ashraf Malkani was finally arrested after several months on the run, following complaints to police from aggrieved investors in his cryptocurrency scams, Times of India  reported.

The first, known as Kassh Coin, was launched two years ago at a lavish function, where Malkani hired models and dancers to entertain guests—including notable Bollywood celebrities. The air of credibility, however, was short lived after investors soon began complaining of a lack of the returns they were promised for investing in the project.

Over the last few weeks, authorities identified Malkani had moved to Uttar Pradesh, where he had been involved in running similar alleged scam—this time around a new cryptocurrency, dubbed V-flix.

Investigators said Malkani was also found to have been soliciting investment for a “commercially viable” video streaming service he had called V-Tube when authorities tracked him down. According to their findings, Malkani had also been involved in sending substantial bank transactions through his fake company, Puneet Enterprises.

After the initial success of their launch event, Malkani set up a number of satellite events across India and into Nepal, including “youth seminars,” designed to stoke interest from younger investors.

However, after Malkani and his co-conspirators withdrew their funds and disappeared, anger had been mounting amongst those caught up in his latest scam. His previous career track record looks equally dubious, with known involvement in several other scams and high profile frauds, including around real-estate and chain-marketing scams.

His arrest was confirmed by senior officers earlier this week. The case is just the latest example of a scammer turning to the crypto sector to cash in on unsuspecting investors.

The case shows the difficulties for investors in largely unregulated crypto markets, with countless instances of unsuspecting individuals being caught out by investment frauds linked to the sector.

Coupled with the threats inherent in older cryptocurrencies, perhaps most prominent with BTC, the case shows safety should still be a priority for anyone looking to get involved in investing in cryptocurrency.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Reserve Bank of India refutes claims of crypto, blockchain probe

At the end of August, rumors surfaced that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had secretly created a division that was involved in the research and creation of regulations for emerging technologies, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The fact that the central bank would be involved in cryptocurrencies was somewhat shocking, given that it has taken a staunch anti-crypto approach to allowing banks to work with businesses in the industry. Now—more than a month after the news first circulated—RBI has stepped forward to deny the rumors.

Financial news outlet The Economic Times first mentioned the new division in August, noting that RBI had already been operating the unit for about a month based its information on two sources close to the Indian central bank.

RBI has rejected the claims, stating that it has no crypto-focused unit. The rejection came as a response to a “right to information” (RIT) request made by Coin Crunch’s Naimish Sanghvi.

The rejection is made even more puzzling by the fact that RBI stated shortly after the story was published in the Economic Times that it had, in fact, formed an “inter-departmental group” designed to “study and provide guidance on the feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency.” It would appear that RBI executives aren’t sure what is going on inside their own bank.

In the early part of 2017, the research arm of RBI published a report on the benefits of blockchain technology in banking. That department, the Institute for Development & Research in Banking Technology, asserted that blockchain technology had “matured enough” to allow for the digitization of the rupee.

About a year later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly spoke about the positives of the blockchain, stating that he would like to see “rapid adaption” of the technology.

The current ban implemented by RBI has caused serious damage to the crypto industry in the country. While a couple of exchanges have been able to figure out ways to legal sidestep the order, others have suffered irreparable harm. Zebpay, formerly one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, has now permanently closed its doors because of the ban.

The debate over RBI’s authority to prevent banks from working with crypto companies has been taken to the country’s Supreme Court. However, the court has twice delayed hearing arguments, only exacerbating the situation further. At this rate, India could become the weakest country in the cryptocurrency world in relatively short order.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Zebpay trading shuts down amid regulatory pressure in India

One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in India, Zebpay, has called it quits.

Last week, Zebpay announced that it is ceasing all digital currency-related trading on its platform, effective Sept. 28. The exchange cited the “extremely difficult” conditions that crypto-related businesses had to operate in recently as the reason behind its shutdown.

In a blog post, the exchange explained, “The recent apst has been extremely difficult. The curb on bank accounts has crippled our, and our customer’s, ability to transact business meaningfully. At this point, we are unable to find a reasonable way to conduct the cryptocurrency exchange business.”

The announcement comes several months after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ordered banks across the country to stop offering financial services to crypto exchanges.

It has been three months since the RBI issued a deadline to the banking industry in the country. Despite the ban, Zebpay said it has continued serving customers in the hope that things would turn around. They did not want people in the country to miss opportunities in digital currencies; however, due to the hard conditions, they have had to stop their operations.

Since its launch in 2015, Zebpay has made a name for itself in India. It was currently among the few crypto exchanges that had managed to survive after the government crackdown on crypto exchanges in the country. At one point Zebpay was the most downloaded app hitting 200,000 downloads and with an annual turnover of INR500 crore.

The cryptocurrency exchanges community in India has suffered tremendously over the last couple of months. Many have moved to fight RBI’s ban, but the Supreme Court in India has yet to make a final decision on the matter. While waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision, exchanges in the country have turned to other alternatives, like offering crypto-to-crypto only trading, just stay afloat.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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RBI wants India’s Supreme Court to butt out of its business

Last week, cryptocurrency enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in India anxiously waited to see how the country’s Supreme Court would rule regarding the banking ban that was put into place by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Unfortunately, they would have to wait longer, as the courts, for the second week in a row, delayed the hearing until today. As the legal debate over cryptocurrencies rages on in the country, RBI has continued to try and sway the court’s decision, but now has taken a different approach – it wants the courts to stay out of the debate.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is one of the entities that has filed a petition with the Supreme Court over the RBI ban. The central bank issued a response to the petition on September 21, stating, “Inc42 has the copy of the petition filed by IAMAI as well as the response filed by RBI on September 8, 2018,” adding that the petition, in addition to others, “is not maintainable either in law or on facts and, hence, liable to be dismissed as such.”

The RBI ban was introduced at the beginning of April, setting in motion a legal fight that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The crypto-based companies argue that the ban is in violation of the Indian Constitution” and has already forced several companies to shut down.

According to RBI, “The impugned circular and the impugned statement neither violate the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 or the right to trade and business guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution…The petitioner cannot seek to exercise the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Hon’ble Court to avail a right which they do not have.”

It further states, “There is no statutory right, much less an infringed one, available to the petitioner to open and maintain bank accounts to trade, invest or deal in virtual currencies.” RBI also asserts that IAMAI and others “haven’t got any reasonable or tenable ground for interference by this court.”

Fortunately for the crypto companies, there has been a few ways to get around the ban. At the end of August, Coindelt indicated that it had relaunched support for the rupee and almost two weeks ago, Koinex announced that it had begun to offer deposits and withdrawals for rupees, allowing users to use their crypto wallets. As others find additional workarounds, cryptocurrency will certainly see a resurgence in the country.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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