India's Enforcement Directorate Freezes $1.5M in Bitcoin in Gaming App E-nuggets Case

India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) has frozen cryptocurrency worth about Rs 128 million ($1.5 million) as part of a money laundering investigation relating to a mobile gaming application called E-nuggets, according to a press release.

  • The investigation is related to a February 2021 complaint filed by regulatory authorities in India's eastern city of Kolkata against Aamir Khan and others.
  • The ED conducted search operations on six locations earlier this month in which stacks of cash – more than Rs 170 million ($2 million) – were recovered from Khan's residence.
  • The agency alleges that Khan and others launched a gaming app called E-Nuggets to defraud the public by collecting money, but then stopping withdrawals suddenly on different pretexts, and finally wiping off all data, including profile information, from the app servers.
  • The accused was transferring part of the money overseas via a cryptocurrency exchange, according to the ED. One dummy account was supposedly opened on Indian exchange WazirX, from where crypto purchased was then transferred to an account in Binance. A balance of as many as 77.6 bitcoins worth roughly Rs 128 million ($1.5 million) have been frozen in that Binance account.
  • WazirX and Binance did not immediately return requests for comment by press time.
  • India's ED has been conducting several search operations related to an "illegal loan apps" scam with China links, with at least 10 crypto exchanges having been investigated.

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