When a man named Ruhul Amin approached the unsuspecting villagers of little-known Pothatti in Dupchanchia upazila of Bogura with a job offer, they could hardly believe it, at least not at first.
As Ruhul Ami promised them – the game is simple. All you have to do is invest around Tk 90,000 in Bitcoin, a digital currency, through an app. In return, the investor will receive a whopping Tk3 lakh over 18 months.
The proposal seemed to some villagers to win money hand over fist. So why not? This is how Ruhul Amin and his accomplices duped dozens of people in Dupchanchia upazila, leaving them penniless and in dire straits.
Pothatti is now the center of a police investigation after a number of victims of this cryptocurrency scam went to the police and filed four cases with different police stations in Bogura.
The Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI), the investigating agency in the cases, has already filed charge sheets against a total of 11 accused, copies of which have been obtained by The Business Standard (TBS).
According to PBI, which offers exorbitant profits, fraudsters have duped hundreds of villagers and cheated them out of millions of taka during the pandemic, as most people have been displaced from their jobs.
One of the victims, Md Abdul Majid, who works as a pharmacist in Pothatti village and earns a decent living, met Ruhul Amin about two years ago.
Ruhul told him all about Bitcoin and showed him a video of digital currency transactions around the world. Majid was excited and immediately decided to invest in this mysterious business, about which he knew very little, at a time when the price of bitcoin was rising.
“If you invest in Bitcoin, it’s a hundred times more profitable than any other business,” Ruhul told TBS.
“After talking to Ruhul Amin and some other investors, I got convinced and invested about Tk 90,000. I opened an account in my name with a program called ‘NZ Robo Trade’. Ruhul told me that the amount would be converted into USD and then. It is used in a digital trading platform. I will take it into account,” Majid continued.
“I was really skeptical and scared, but to my surprise, I earned about Tk 15,000 within a month, which motivated me for further investments. Gradually, I invested up to 5 lakhs and the program became fully operational within a period of time. it’s a month,” Majid said.
“I tried to reach Ruhul Amin, but no luck. It took some time, but I realized that there was no Bitcoin. It was a trap and I fell for it. All my hard-earned money evaporated. Air,” said Majid, choking on tears.
“It wasn’t all their fault, it was our fault. Like me, many people were hypnotized by the investment opportunity that brought huge returns,” he said, adding: “I invested everything I had in various parts. Now I’ve lost everything, I’m a beggar.” .
Majid and 10 other victims have filed a case under the Digital Security Act against a tech company called NZ Robo Trade at the Dupchanchia Police Station and accused Ruhul Amin in the case.
In the case affidavit, Majid said the fraudsters initially launched the “NZ Robo Trade” program and told people it was being operated from New Zealand, an island nation in the southwest Pacific Ocean, because Bangladesh had not yet legalized bitcoin transactions within the country. .
In 2020 and 2021, fraudsters opened branches in Pothatti village and some other places in Bogura.
In the affidavit of the case, Majid mentioned that together with ten people from Pothatti village, he invested about $5,300 in 2020 and 2021.
Other investors are Fatema (28,200 manats), Fahmidah (1,090 manats), Morjina (46,200 manats), Biti Khatun (28,200 manats), Razia (90,000 manats), Poly (90,000 manats), Harunur Rashid. 90,000 manats, Nasima (46,200 manats), Altaf (28,200 manats) and Bashar (28,200 manats).
In this case, Majid accused eight people of Dupchancia upazila – Ruhul Amin, 35, Md Ismail Hossain, 28, Golam Mostafa Sarker, 55, Md Abu Sayed, 53, Md Masud Rana, 27, Md Mainul Islam, 27, Md Belal Hossain. , 56 and Md Kamrul Islam, 33.
So far, 56 victims from different parts of Bogura have come forward and filed a case against these accused persons.
According to the victims, they invested around 30 lakhs in this trade called Bitcoin and lost it all.
Additional Superintendent of Police at PBI Headquarters, Abu Yusuf, told TBS, “After investigation, we have found evidence of a total loss of $39,700, which is about Tk 32 lakh.”
The PBI official also said that the actual amount of fraud is likely to be higher as most of the victims did not claim their losses and did not file any lawsuits.
According to PBI, in August 2021, the Rapid Action Battalion raided the office of NZ Robo Trade and arrested accused Ruhul Amin, Ismail Hussain, Belal Hussain and Kamrul Islam after a man named Farid Uddin Pramanik from Pothatti village opened the case. . case.
RAB also seized Tk 5,68,000 in cash and digital devices. However, after several months of imprisonment, the accused was released on bail.
According to the victims, the accused threatened them repeatedly when they demanded the money back after being released from prison.
Officials related to the investigation said that the main accused Ruhul Amin used to live in Singapore. After returning home, he rented a house in Pothatti in February 2020 and started his company “NZ Robo Trade” and started looking for investment from locals.
Akramul Hossain, the then Investigative Monitoring Officer and Superintendent of Police (SP) of Bogura PBI told TBS, “Victims invested their hard-earned money without direct knowledge of the digital currency Bitcoin. But due to legal complexities, getting their money back is a long process.” it’s luck,” he said.
What is Bitcoin?
According to Investopedia, Bitcoin (BTC) is a cryptocurrency, a virtual currency designed to act as a form of money and payment beyond the control of any individual, group, or entity, thereby eliminating the need for third-party involvement in financial transactions. .
Bitcoin was introduced to the public in 2009 by an anonymous developer or group of developers using the name Satoshi Nakamoto.
Bitcoin is created, distributed, traded and stored using a decentralized ledger system known as the blockchain.