As of last count, 27,500 people fell victim to one of South Africa’s biggest digital currency scams, and the numbers are still growing as more people are coming out. Thousands of locals as well as Australians and Americans invested bitcoins into BTC Global’s online wallet address in a sum of more than $50 million. According to Captain Lloyd Ramovha, complaints are now being investigated by Hawks’ serious commercial crimes unit. Hawks is the elite policing unit of South Africa.
Ramovha explained, “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. There are in excess of 27‚500 complainants with many outside South Africa.” He added, “The amount is over $50-million and could rise as more victims come forward.” It is unclear if the scammers were from South Africa or foreigners.
Ramovha added, “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.” Victims from numerous areas in the country have advised TimesLIVE that they invested anywhere from R16,000 to as much as R1.4 million to the forex and commodities trader of BTC Global named S.”Steve Twain”. Twain was touted to be a “master trader”.
Investors of BTC Global were initially receiving payouts inconsistently per week. The payouts stopped a few weeks ago. Authorities now surmise that “Twain” was a non-existent person. The website of BTC Global now shows a message that Twain is missing. The company is similarly asking victims to halt threats addressed to the company’s admin team.
The CEO of Debt Rescue, Neil Roets, advised media of the number of South Africans who have been almost lead to bankruptcy due to their purchase of cryptocurrency. However, the head of the business development and marketing of Bitcoin company Luno provides the following signs one should look out for in order to avoid being scammed by illicit cryptocurrencies: they promise a high return, offers a can’t-lose-money guarantee, provides little information on the company and its owners, it gives a sense of invest-now urgency.