Indian student Bhavesh Patel says his parents sold their agricultural land to pay the hospital bill after his wife required cardiac surgery. He invested that money into a cryptocurrency investment scheme and is now suing the promoters to get it back.
An Indian student is suing the promoters of a cryptocurrency investment scheme that has left dozens of Indian Australians out of pocket by tens of thousands of dollars.
Bhavesh Patel says he didn’t get even a single cent in return for his $30,000 invested in Plus Gold Union Coin – a cryptocurrency promoted to Australians in 2017-18.
Though the number of investors in Australia is estimated to be around 300, he is one of 67 people who have filed complaints against what they call a “fraud”.
Mr Patel said he was desperate for money to pay the $50,000 hospital bill after his wife had to undergo urgent cardiac surgery at Westmead Hospital.
“They knew why I needed the money and they still did this to me,” Mr Patel told SBS Punjabi.
He was introduced to PGUC by a man who he met at a spiritual congregation in Sydney.
“They even came to meet my wife at the hospital and said ‘Bhavesh bhai, your money will be doubled in three months and you can easily pay the hospital bill’,” he said.
Mr Patel said he got his parents to sell their agricultural land in India and invested in the scheme.
“I invested it for three months and when I asked them to pay me after three months, they kept delaying, saying there was no exchange available. Then they stopped taking my calls,” he said.
PGUC was promoted as a multi-level digital currency investment scheme, claiming it was owned by a European company with a background in precious metals trade.
Investors claim they were lured into putting their money into after being shown very high growth prospects and fancy marketing material.
In November last year, police in India registered a case of cheating and fraud against some individuals who the investigators say were running the PGUC from Jabalpur in central India. The investigators claim it was a fake cryptocurrency created with a motive to defraud the investors.
Many people in Australia bought the PGUC packages, paying up to $35 per coin. In February last year, the value of the coin crashed. Mr Patel says the promoters here in Australia still sold the package to him at a high price.
“They knew that there was something wrong going on behind the scene and yet they took my money and sold me the coins,” he says.
Mr Patel has filed a case against the promoters in Blacktown local court but the first hearing on May 10 was adjourned as he asked for time to find a lawyer.
“I don’t have any money. In fact, I don’t have money even for my wife’s medicine and injections, let alone her treatment and this case.
“But I’m determined to get it back. It was my parents’ money that they gave it to me for my wife’s treatment,” he says.
A group of aggrieved investors has sent complaints to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the ATO and the AFP besides the Prime Minister’s Office in India, seeking an investigation against the alleged perpetrators and promoters of the scheme.
ASIC said it was aware of the complaint but did not comment on whether it was investigating the matter.
Indian police say the alleged perpetrators are “underground” and that the police is trying to arrest them.