Over the years, cryptocurrencies are gaining an ever-growing fan base, many of which are attracted by the commercial possibilities that they offer, and by the expectation of obtaining large profits in the very short term thanks to the strong volatility of many of the digital assets.
However, the good reputation that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, Bitcoin Cash and many others have garnered has also opened opportunities for people or organizations to take advantage of the interest in cryptocurrencies to offer digital currencies with the promise of great returns, which in the end they lead to a scam that ends up taking the funds from investors with less knowledge about these issues.
Therefore, we show three cases of companies with a large number of followers, which were pointed out by regulatory bodies or have open legal processes under charges of large-scale crypto scam. It seeks to make visible how these companies profit by taking advantage of the ignorance of many, offering dubious commercial offers that go against the operation of the market.
The OneCoin case
OneCoin is a company that formally started operations in 2014 under the direction of Ruja Ignatova and Sebastian Greenwood. Initially, his business proposal was based on the commercialization of a cryptocurrency of the same name, which operated on a private Blockchain network that would go to market in the following years and would commercially rival Bitcoin, so that those interested could allocate capital to buy as a pre-sale of said tokens, as well as to access training programs for commercial operations based on their digital currency.
Reports released by various digital media detail that Ignatova and his partners asked a developer to create a website that looked like a true exchange for their digital currency, thereby presenting unrealistic trade volumes and dummy exchange rates to mislead investors.
Managing an income scheme mainly supported by the marketing of its token and by attracting more people as referrals, the pyramid scheme managed to penetrate many countries around the world, capitalizing more than EUR € 4.4 billion among investors interested in your business proposal. However, the problems started when many users experienced difficulties in marketing their digital assets and extracting their capital, generating discontent over the restrictions and leading to reports of perpetual fraud.
Legal proceedings against its managers
The first legal actions against OneCoin for crypto scam took place between 2015 and 2017, when regulatory and legal bodies in Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Latvia took actions to alert investors, and in certain cases opening procedures. legal to find the responsible managers.
In 2017, authorities in India arrested 18 people at Navi Mumbai for organizing recruitment campaigns for OneCoin. But in 2019 the authorities of several countries carried out important efforts in a coordinated way to find the capture of senior executives of the company, among which the lawyer Mark Scott stands out, who allegedly helped to legitimize stolen capital from investors ; as well as Konstantin Ignatova, brother of the company's creator and one of the main operational directors of the large-scale crypto scam.
Authorities are currently searching for Ruja Ignatova, OneCoin's chief director, who is thought to be hiding hidden somewhere in Europe, assuming a false identity to hide from police agencies.
Crypto pyramid scam that still captures followers
Despite the aforementioned events, reports published by various news portals assure that OneCoin continues to operate mainly in Asian and Latin American countries, to which it led its operations after the ongoing legal conflicts within the European continent.
For the month of February this year, some news sites indicated that OneCoin was organizing some events to attract investors in Mexico and Japan. At the end of 2019, the operating company closed its website in the United States, and since then the authorities have carried out digital investigations to find other portals that promote the pyramid scheme among residents of the country.
The PlusToken crypto scam
In the case of PlusToken, it is a company that started operations in mid-2018, which offered a service to store cryptocurrencies and within the offer included an investment program that offered high monthly returns for the funds in custody. The commercial offer attracted investors mainly in China and South Korea, with the presence of some countries in Europe and North America, thus reaching a large number of investors around the world.
Although the company offered weekly profit margins starting at 8% of the total available as collateral, the offer became much more lucrative if the interested parties invited other people to use their service as referrals. To do this, they held digital and face-to-face meetings aimed at selling the product to interested people, who for the most part did not have much knowledge about the operation of these assets, thus attracting an estimated 3 million investors.
After capitalizing around EUR € 3 billion in user funds, they began to experience obstacles to carry out the withdrawal of their assets. Finally, the company closed access to its services by June 2019, keeping the funds of the people who used the offered products.
Funds used to manipulate the market
Once PlusToken's operations were closed, reports made by various Blockchain analysis entities detailed that part of the funds went to certain exchanges, registering cases in which the sale of up to some BTC 23,000 was finalized.
With these actions not only the scammed people were harmed, since the commercialization of a large amount of crypto capital through the main platforms generates an excess in the existing offer, which drives a significant drop in the price of the digital currency in question.
Recently, analysts assure that in the middle of March a total of 13,000 BTC associated with PlusToken were traded, which made its effects on the market feel during the drop registered for those days, which brought the price of Bitcoin below the EUR € 5,000 in just a few hours.
Open legal process in China
Following revelations associated with the modus operandi of PlusToken's top managers, recently one of the top managers, Zhou Moumou, is appearing in court in China on large-scale scam charges. He is accused of promoting the company's services through WeChat groups and other Internet pages, attracting more than 1.9 million investors to the pyramid scheme where they lost their funds.
Previously, in mid-July 2019, six Chinese-born citizens were arrested in Vanautu and extradited to China, whom authorities associated with an ongoing investigation into the PlusToken company. Specifically, they are charged with charges similar to those of Zhou, in addition to adding their participation in the organization of events to attract new victims.
Currently, the investigation is ongoing and the authorities of the Asian country are after the search for the main executives.
The case of Airbit Club
Regarding Airbit Club, we are talking about a company that dates back to 2016 founded by Gutemberg Dos Santos and Renato Rodríguez, which offered users the possibility of acquiring Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, opening an investment market in which they guaranteed high profitability based on buy / sell operations, deriving profits to investors.
For this, the company requested interested parties a membership equivalent to EUR € 250 in addition to the investment of their savings in Bitcoin through the platform to access the alleged benefits. It also enabled a referral program to multiply profits and guarantee a high margin of profitability, which is impossible within this market in light of the volatility that affects prices.
In 2017, Dos Santos and Rodríguez faced a trial in which they had to pay a fine of EUR € 1.4 million for directing a pyramid scheme, which was pointed out by the National Commission of the Spanish Stock Market, where they also pointed out the links of said company with Airbit Club.
Currently many people and entities classify this service as a crypto scam for the breach of commercial promises, the little information it offers about its plans and the high margin of commissions to extract the alleged capital earned. However, the most important complaint is that of operating a pyramid scheme, since the earnings of the oldest members mainly derive from the investment made by the new income.
Open process in Italy
In addition to the indications by the Spanish National Securities Market Commission in 2017, recently in late March, the Italian National Securities Market Commission (CONSOB) banned the activities of Airbit Club throughout Italy, additionally issuing a fraud warning in which it recommends residents not to invest in the products and services offered by it.
The order issued by CONSOB also establishes a block to access the Airbit Club website in Italian territory, a measure that is effective against all internet providers in the country.
Avoid being the victim of a crypto scam
This article only presents some of the best known cases in recent years, but there are many more. The good commercial reputation of Bitcoin and the main cryptocurrencies attracts many organizations interested in profiting from investors, for which they propose fraudulent investment schemes that only seek to capture the capital of people with less knowledge about these issues.
Therefore, the recommendation will always be to dedicate time to properly document the operation of these assets, read about the behavior of their associated markets and manage reliable alternatives to acquire cryptocurrencies safely.
We also remind readers not to get carried away with offers that seem very promising, and before taking steps in investment matters, carry out an in-depth investigation into the current proposal to detect possible irregularities and inconsistencies.