Representational Image. Photo: AFP
Kochi: With broken legs, 49-year-old George John (name changed) from Munderi in Nilambur finds it tough to meet the expense for the treatment of his wife, who is suffering from kidney ailment .He has also to meet the educational expenses of the son , who is in 7th standard. George was selling tea in train in Nilambur-Shornur route till three years ago to earn livelihood. However, he has not been in a position to work after the two-wheeler in which he was travelling collided head on with a car. He had to implant a metal in legs and it forced him to stop selling tea in trains.
“The accident shattered our life completely as I was the sole breadwinner in my family. My wife undergoes dialysis three times in a week, which is done for free at a hospital. But still there are other treatment expenses. We live on the mercy of others,” said George John.
It was at this juncture, he came to know about an attractive investment plan in crypto currency in a WhatsApp message shared. The post offered Rs 270 for 300 days upon investing Rs 15,000 and also 10 Morris Coin cryptocurrency worth Rs 1,500 each. “We were offered a return of Rs 96,000 in 300 days. It looked very attractive as getting Rs 270 per day would have been a great relief for my family suffering from severe financial crunch. I contacted the number available in the post and they promised the return without fail. With the money donated by my friends and relatives, I invested in Morris Coin. For about ten days, I got Rs 270 continuously but then it stopped all of a sudden. I contacted the agent to know the reason why it was stopped and I was shared a post by Nishad. The post said that Morris Coin is planning to issue ATM cards for cash withdrawal from the wallet of the account due to heavy rush of customers. It also requested the customers to be patient till one more week to resolve the issue. However, the money never came after that and I approached a police station with a complaint seeking help for getting back the invested money," said George.
The experience shared by George is not an isolated one. According to a post by the accused in the case, there were 11-lakh customers and thousands among them came up with a complaint after losing money. The 31-year-old Nishad Kiliyidukkil, the master brain behind the fraud, just had a website 'morriscoin.com' to lure people into it and executed his plans with the help of agents, who were hired by him.
“The agents were given 10 to 30 percent commission for making a person invest Rs 15,000 or more in Morris Coin. The huge scam worth Rs 1,200 crores was well executed as Nishad came out in YouTube videos urging people to invest money offering lucrative returns. Cases were registered against Nishad in various districts in the state and also in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” said Abdul Rashad, another person from Kasargod who invested in Morris Coin.
Mathrubhumi.com has learned that morriscoin.com has no office anywhere in the world nor Nishad shared any of his contact details with customers. Stll, people trusted and invested money in Morris Coin to the tune of crores of rupees. According to ED, 900 people came up with the complaint against Nishad but there are thousands who still are not ready to level a formal complaint.
Nishad was arrested earlier on a complaint registered at Pookkottumpadam police station and later came out on bail. He remains absconding now. So far, eight people have been arrested in connection with the case, including the recent arrest of Abdul Gafoor, Director of Stox Global Brokers Private Limited, by ED.
The case was initially investigated by police and ED took over the probe by taking into account the vastness of the crime. ED found that Nishad invested the cheated money in real estate in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and even in various parts of Kerala. As per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), ED attached assets of Nishad worth Rs 36. 72 crores.
In Munderi, a village in Malappuram, alone hundreds of people invested in Morris Coin eyeing huge returns. There are people who invested even crores of rupees in Morris Coin.
Mathrubhumi.com spoke to an agent, who had worked for Morris Coin, to know how he was hired. “Morris Coin worked like multi level marketing. In addition to the commission fee for agents, the investors were also offered commission for getting people into it," said an agent, who wants to remain anonymous.
Those who made others join got commission and the network flourished rapidly. However, when investors stopped receiving money, the network collapsed and many sought legal aid to get their money back.