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Hard-working Australians lose ‘millions’ in Indian cryptocurrency scheme

A presentation for the Plus Gold Union Coin in Sydney.

Dozens of Indian Australians claim their investment of millions of dollars in a cryptocurrency has been wiped off after its India-based operations came under police investigation.

Dozens of Indian Australians have lost their hard earned money in an allegedly fake crypto currency operation based in India, with their coins vanishing overnight. While a police investigation is on in India, the Australian victims are running from pillar to post to recover their money from the promoters and the now-defunct company.

Plus Gold Union Coin was promoted with fancy presentations, including graphs and white paper, projecting steep growth and high returns with minimal risk in Australia, in 2017. Many Indian Australians invested into it trusting their friends and acquaintances as it was a multi-level marketing scheme in Sydney and Melbourne, with many investing tens of thousands of dollars.

“Everything looked genuine… a nice website with our personal dashboard and presentations by the promoters that were slick and statistical graphs indicating projected growth,” says Rajiv Sharma who claims to have invested $52,000 in the scheme”.

“We later found out that the presentations were plagiarised from another crypto,” Mr Sharma told SBS Punjabi.

The scheme went bust in the latter part of 2018 and the promoters in Australia told the investors that the coin value had plummeted. Mr Sharma says he and other investors weren’t able to access their coins through the website whereas they could earlier their investment growing.

“If the value has declined, we are willing to live with that. But that’s not what it is.  Our coins have totally disappeared,” he says.

This happened after the police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh began investigations following receiving complaints by investors who failed to cash their coins upon maturity and were allegedly forced to invest for a further six-month term. According to media reports, over one thousand investors in India have been left in the lurch, with claims of lost investments at an estimated $20 million.

Here in Australia, there are at least 67 people who have so far come forward with the claims that they have lost their investment in this scheme.

Sundeep Khisty says he invested $30,000 after a colleague at work told him about the scheme. He says, he didn’t get any returns on his investment at all.

He is now the spokesperson for the group and said they have informed the authorities in Australia, as well as India.

“We have written to the ASIC and given them all the details, we have also written to the Indian Prime Minister’s office. They have acknowledged our complaints but we don’t know what’s happening about it,” he told SBS Punjabi.

In the complaint, the group has also named people who allegedly promoted this cryptocurrency in Australia. One of those named as a promoter denied he was the promoter and said he merely “helped” people with the technical aspect of it and claimed he himself lost his investment of $15,000.

“It was a risk that everyone was made aware of right in the beginning. If they did not understand the risk, it’s their fault,” he told SBS Punjabi. 

While the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is aware of the complaint, it won’t comment on whether an investigation is underway.

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