After receiving several reports, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) of South Africa, also known as “The Hawks”, launched an investigation of the supposed fraud involving more than 27,500 people that had invested in a platform called BTC Global.
The fraud is worth more than 50 million US dollars and was reported by a local media. According to the media, it is the largest fraud involving bitcoins on the territory of South Africa, despite the fact that some of the affected people are also from the US and Australia. Lloyd Ramovha, the spokesman of The Hawks explained the investigation of the supposed fraud is just starting: “The investigation is in its infancy. I also cannot say whether it is a Ponzi scheme. BTC Global is being investigated for contravening the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act.”
Likewise, Ramovha confirmed the Hawks were investigation the complaints against BTC Global and said the complaints were filed two weeks ago by some of the affected people residing outside South Africa. He could not say if the criminals were from South Africa. He said: “The amount is more than 50 million dollars and could increase if new victims present themselves.”
It is worth mentioning that BTC Global has been inviting its participants to invest and it offered them 14% dividends on a weekly basis. It seems these payments were being made during a certain time period and to the first investors. As if this was not suspicious enough, it was too easy to sign up for the platform, as it did not require identity or any type of verification.
The participants needed to invest 1,000 dollars in bitcoins as a minimum amount and the money later went to the hands of the supposedly experienced trader. At the moment, the official website of BTC Global contains the announcement of the suspension of the transactions and any type of payment. According to the aforementioned local media, payment information was sent on February 18th, just like in the previous weeks. However, Steven Twain, the “investment guru” behind the fraud had not executed any payment or established any contact since then.
It seems the BTC Global team is equally surprised by Twain’s disappearance. They did not have any other contact with him besides Facebook and email, which means it is likely a false name. According to the BTC Global website, this is why the team cannot do anything and does not feel responsible for what happened. The BTC Global team said: “We are as shocked and angry as everyone else. But we all knew the risks involved with trusting the funds with Steven. We were all complacent to Steven. A we were all financing him independently.”
On the other hand, this year we have seen a number of frauds being reported. In January, a businessman from Spain was accused of supposedly tricked five investors and obtained almost five million euros in cryptocurrencies. In the same month, Prodeum disappeared leaving only the word “penis” written on its website. LoopX suddenly disappeared with 4.5 million dollars raised during its ICO campaign.