Pakistan investigates $100 million crypto scam

    11 Jan 2022
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    Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has uncovered a cryptocurrency investment scam that allegedly cost Pakistani citizens about 17.7 billion rupees (about $100 million). Over the last month, many people in Pakistan complained to the FIA against at least 11 mobile applications which had stopped working over some time and allegedly defrauded their money.

    The notice called the general manager or growth analyst of Binance Pakistan to appear and explain the organization’s position on the linkage of fraudulent online investment mobile applications with the exchange, Xinhua news agency quoted a statement from FIA’s cybercrime wing as saying.

    “A relevant questionnaire has also been sent to Binance Headquarters Cayman Islands and Binance US to explain the same,” the agency added.

    Providing details on the case, Imran Riaz, director of the FIA cybercrime wing, said on Friday that the organizers used cryptocurrency.

    “We launched a probe after receiving complaints regarding a fraud involving billions of rupees being committed using nine online applications,” Riaz said.

    Last month, people from all over Pakistan complained to the FIA against at least 11 mobile applications which had stopped working over some time and allegedly defrauded their billions of Pakistani rupees, the FIA said.

    The initial findings revealed that each such application had on average 5,000 customers with HFC, one of the applications, reportedly having a maximum of 30,000 customers, said the statement.

    According to the FIA, “the reported range of investment per person was from $100 to $80,000 with an estimated average of $2,000 per person thus making estimated scam stand at nearly $100 million”.

    In December, the FIA froze over 1,000 bank accounts and cards used by crypto traders from Pakistan. The purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies is still prohibited in the country as per a circular issued by the SBP in April 2018. A recent report revealed that Pakistanis have invested $20 Billion in crypto assets despite the ban. Calls have been mounting for the government to regulate related transactions.

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