The ED has frozen Rs.9.82 billion worth of funds held in merchant IDs with certain online payment gateways as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation into a “Chinese-controlled” investment token app.
This is the second time ED has frozen funds held in merchant IDs at certain online payment gateways.
“Various Chinese-controlled companies like Comein Network Technology Private Limited and others also operate several suspicious lending/other apps like Cashhome, Cashmart, Easyloan, etc. in service agreements with various NBFCs (non-bank financial companies), and they are submissive to receiving public funds the pretense of running these apps (mobile applications),” the federal agency said in a statement.
The app-based token under investigation in this case is HPZ and the companies whose funds have been frozen under the Anti-Money Laundering Act include Comein Network Technology Private Ltd, Mobicred Technology Private Ltd, Magic Data Technology Private Ltd, Baitu Technology Private Ltd, Aliyeye Network Technology India Pvt Ltd, Wecash Technology Private Ltd, Larting Private Ltd, Magic Bird Technology Private Ltd and Acepearl Services Private Ltd.
“Account balances valued at Rs 9.82 billion from various Chinese-controlled companies held at payment gateways in connection with an investigation related to the misuse of app-based tokens called HPZ and other similar applications by several companies, were frozen,” the ED said.
The Enforcement Directorate had carried out a similar operation earlier this month, freezing Rs.46.67 billion worth of funds. These funds have been stated by the agency as belonging to certain trading companies and held in payment gateways such as Easebuzz, Razorpay, Cashfree and Paytm.
These companies had stated that the funds did not belong to them and offered full cooperation to the ED in this investigation.
HPZ was an app-based token that promised users big profits against investments, declaring the same as “investment in mining machines for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies”.
“The scammers’ modus operandi was to first trick victims into investing in their companies under the pretense of doubling/multiplying their investment through the HPZ token and other similar applications,” the agency said.
The money laundering case stems from an FIR filed in October 2021 by the Kohima Police Cybercrime Unit in Nagaland against the accused company and its affiliates.