South African police and private investigators have launched a probe against BTC Global after reports of large-scale fraud have come flooding in.
According to South African news outlet Sunday Times, more than 27é500 peopleé including South Africansé Americans and Australians have been duped by a large-scale bitcoin scam. Some victims have reportedly claimed that they lost as much as $117,000 to the scam.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the commercial crimes unit is investigating complaints against BTC globalé a company in which thousands invested cryptocurrency valued at more than $50-million by transferring bitcoins into an online wallet address.
“I have spoken to one of the investigators in our team and he has confirmed that this matter came to them about two weeks ago,” Ramovha said. There are in excess of 27é500 complainants with many outside South Africa. The amount is over $50-million and could rise as more victims come forward.”
Ramovha could not confirm if the scam artists were South Africans. He said: “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.”
BTC Global was established by a man named Steven Twain, who claims to have become rich through binary options trading. The victims reported that weekly payouts were infrequent until Twain went off the radar two weeks ago Ś leading investors to believe the individual never actually existed.
The official BTC Global website have posted a statement claiming that Twain, had disappeared on February 18. The statement further claims that there has been no contact since that time and that until Twain resurfaces or is found there is nothing the admin team can do.
“Steven did not acknowledge receipt of the information. Steven has not contacted anyone in leadership or admin team,” the post states. “No payments have been made by Steven … If anyone has ANY information on how we can get in contact with him please get in touch and let us know.”
BMV Attorney Antoon Botha confirmed that he has taken on clients who were involved with BTC Global. Following the formation of their arguments and mandates, they plan to take legal action against the company and its representatives. He added that there is prima facie evidence to suggest instances of theft, common law fraud, and various transgressions of the Bank Act.
BTC Global administrator Cheri Ward said she has been receiving death threats and has had to lay criminal charges against a man who claimed she was responsible for the scam. She maintains that there has been no fraud, and that investors have received returns and ought to have been aware the risks involved in investing in the fund.
“Every single person who invested in BTC Global did so of their own volition and subsequent to having conducted their own research into the fund,” Ward said. “As is the case with any fund into which money is invested, there is no guarantee that an investor will be receiving any return on their investment.”
Allegations that BTC Global is a Ponzi scheme have been floated in the past. Earlier this month, Jessie Holmes published an article on Medium claiming that Twain is not a real person.
“Steven Twain does not exist. There is no trading going on, by him or any other person. This is a Ponzi Scheme, nothing else,” said Holmes. “The posts on facebook and the various social media chats like WhatsApp and Telegram hail Steven Twain as a messiah, saint and saviour. There is no address for him or contact details. Cheri Ward and crew have been sending this man almost R1 billion of other peopleĺs moneyů they claim they have never met him or spoken to him. Of course this is true. He does not exist!!”
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