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Monday November 28, 2022

Pakistanis lose Rs17.7 billion to online cryptocurrency fraud

Local representative of cryptocurrency exchange Binance has been directed to appear in person on Jan 10

By News Report
January 08, 2022
The FIA has issued a notice to Hamza Khan, a local representative of Binance.
The FIA has issued a notice to Hamza Khan, a local representative of Binance.

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has detected an online fraud of USD100 million (Rs17.7 billion) using a cryptocurrency and issued a notice to the local representative of Binance to appear in person on Jan 10, local media reported.

Sharing details of the fraud, the Additional Director of the FIA cybercrime wing Imran Riaz on Friday said that those involved in the online fraud transferred the money abroad via cryptocurrency.

“We launched a probe after receiving complaints regarding a fraud involving billions of rupees being committed using nine online applications,” he said and added that they had sought answers in this regard from a representative of the cryptocurrency in Pakistan.

He shared that people invested between US$100 to US$80,000 in fraud applications. “Those who developed these apps were linked to cryptocurrency,” the FIA official said.

He said that they have sought details of all those linked to the fraud with the Binance cryptocurrency and their crypto accounts would be suspended. The FIA official further shared that cryptocurrency is being used in money laundering and terror financing.

According to details some mobile applications were offering Pakistanis to invest in the virtual currency. These applications were linked to Binance, the leading virtual platform for buying and selling Bitcoins and other similar cryptocurrencies.

However, these applications suddenly vanished and investment of around Rs17.7 billion made by Pakistanis were lost. The authorities said the unique way was adopted for fraudulent activity. The persons who launched the applications had connections with the crypto exchange.

The FIA issued the notice to Hamza Khan, the local representative of Binance. “During the inquiry, it was found that the fraudulent accounts of different applications namely, MCX, HFC, HTFOX, FXCOPY, OKMINI, BB001, AVG86C, BX66, 91fp, TASKTOK, were linked with Binance wallets,” the officials said.

It is noted that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) through a circular issued in 2018 informed the general public that it had not authorised or licensed any individual or entity for the issuance, sale, purchase, or investment in any such virtual currencies, coins, tokens in Pakistan.

Recently, a report released by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) revealed that Pakistanis had a staggering $20 billion worth of assets in cryptocurrencies.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has also launched a probe into the investment in the cryptocurrencies to identify investors and their source of investment. During a Sindh High Court hearing, a petitioner had on April 6, 2018 stated that the SBP imposed a ban on the use of digital currency despite developing countries are earning significant revenue from the cryptocurrency which doesn’t pose any threat to national interests.

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