Bhavesh Patel, an Indian international student in Australia, lost A$30,000 in a cryptocurreny scam.
The scam was run by Sydney businessman and man-about-town, Harpreet Singh Sahni. He had a range of business interests in Australia, including running the Australia operations of an international venture selling new cryptocurrency.
But the cryptocurreny business was a scam, and Mr Sahni knew it.
Indian police allege that the syndicate that Sahni was a part of scammed investors out of nearly $50 million. About half came from Australian victims.
Sahni pitched investors on the “Plus Gold Union Coin”, claiming that an investment of $7,000 would grow into more than $100,000 in 12 months. The catch – investors had to lock into a 12-month contract and could not take their money out during that time.
Investors could also be rewarded with commissions and holidays for recruiting more investors.
This was a multi-level ponzi scheme.
An international student loses everything
On of the investors who believed Sahni’s promises was international student Bhavesh Patel. He had fallen on hard times after his wife suffered three heart attacks and needed costly medical care. He said:
I [was] in this very tough situation. I had to buy my wife medicines and injections. I had to pay my tuition fees, I needed to survive.
He agreed to invest $30,000 with encouragement from a member of his spiritual community.
Later, when he realised he had been scammed and tried to track down his money, an associate of Sahni’s threatened his life.
The scheme comes undone
When the cryptocurrency price crashed in late 2017 investors in Plus Gold Union Coin began to suspect that they had been robbed.
Several investors made complaints to New South Wales Police about how they had been scammed.
More than a year later, in August 2019, Indian police arrested Harpreet Singh Sahni in a New Delhi hotel. He is now facing charges relating to the cryptocurrency scam that carry up to 24 years in jail, and is due to face court in India on 25 November 2020.
The money is gone
Indian police said that he money Mr Sahni and his associates stole from victims was spent on gambling and parties. It is unlikely that any investors will see the money they lost in the cryptocurrency scam.
It is a big blow for Bhavesh Patel:
I totally lost my faith. I totally lost everything…As an international student, I’m struggling financially.
Knowledge is the best defence
As an international student, the best way to protect yourself from scams is to ensure you understand the risks and warning signs.
Study Guard can help. Take our free course on ‘Scams Targeting International Students‘ today.
It takes about 10 minutes and could save you from becoming a victim of a scam.