The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Odisha Police, on the 7th of August, stated that it has busted the biggest crypto-ponzi scam in India. As part of the crackdown, the EOW team arrested Gurtej Singh Sidhu, head of the India operations of ‘STA Crypto token’ from Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar.
The EOW team also arrested Nirod Das of Bhadrak, who is the Odisha head of STA (Solar Techno Alliance). According to the EOW officials, the total money involved (Pan India) in the scam is estimated to be more than Rs 1000 crore and STA has more than 2 lakh members across India.
The EOW found out that STA collected deposits despite not having any authorisation from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) or other concerned authorities. Additionally, STA hosts its website from Iceland, however, all its ‘business’ activity is limited to India.
According to Senior EOW officials, STA held a grand celebration in a star hotel in Goa last week. The meeting was attended by over one thousand up-line members including many from Odisha.
In a statement, EOW said, “Film star Govinda was the chief guest of this meeting/celebration. Govinda also released some videos promoting/endorsing STA.”
The EOW had received intelligence that a cryptocurrency-based Ponzi scam is operating in Odisha, especially in Bhadrak, Balasore, Bhubaneswar, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Kendrapada, and Keonjhar districts. Following, these intels, the EOW initiated a probe that led to these arrests and exposed the biggest crypto-ponzi scam running in India.
The officials added that the bank account of Odisha head of STA, Nirod Das, reflected transactions (credit & debit) to the tune of more than Rs 30 crore. Additionally, there were records of huge cash deposits in his accounts indicating that lots of black money may have been routed in this scam. Subsequently, all the accounts have been frozen.
According to estimates, more than 10,000 people from Odisha and more than 2 lakh people across India are members of this STA. The majority of the members are from the states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Assam.
Launched in September 2021, STA (Solar Techno Alliance) claimed to be a “one-stop Solar Technologies service” that enables users to order anything they like from the nearest farmers in the shortest amount of time using blockchain technology.
However, the EOW officials found that the company was using popular terminology to hide its scam.
EOW Chief Jai Narayan Pankaj said, “Not authorised by the Reserve Bank of India or any other authorities to collect deposits, the STA runs a huge Ponzi multi-level marketing (MLM/Pyramid) scheme in the garb of a crypto token. STA uses socially popular terms like green energy and solar technology to mask its Crypto-Ponzi scam.”
One Hungarian national, David Gez is the head of this STA and he has visited India on multiple occasions. Gurtej Singh Sidhu is said to have reached the Kohinnor leadership (the top level of STA’s Pyramid structure) and he was heading this alleged crypto-ponzi scam in India.
Sidhu claims himself to be a Crypto-currency expert, MLM Guru, Life coach, and motivational speaker.
David Gez and Sidhu have extensively travelled across India, including visits to Odisha, while actively participating in numerous STA programs. Additionally, they manage multiple YouTube channels for promotional and educational purposes, aimed at guiding new members. New members are promised that they will start earning anywhere from $20 to $3000 per day if they join this initiative. They then have to recruit others beneath them. Moreover, members receive bonuses and various royalties for successfully bringing in new participants.