Africa’s largest, most advanced and most liberal economy, South Africa, is grappling with the latest reported ICO fraud. South African Authorities believe that thousands of investors have lost over 1 billion Rand ($80m) in a Ponzi scheme.
Targeting One of the Most Advanced African Countries
The firm, BTC Global had promised investors massive returns on investments, better than any institution could offer. Clients were promised a return of 50% of investments in a month, 14% in a week and 5% in a day. With the country experiencing the worst economic slowdown since the fall of apartheid in 1994, it is now apparent that the BTC Global took advantage of the situation in South Africa.
Many South Africans saw this as an opportunity to make the best out of the opportunities available. Known for their propensity to save through investments, middle-class South Africans who constitute more than half of the county’s population of over 50 million people, were the targeted class. The local authorities are promising to get to the bottom of the scam and bring the culprits to book.
The Bitcoin Scam?
Although it is apparent that the BTC Global had no connection to the world leader Bitcoin, some investors were misled to believe that the firm in question was a member of the Global Bitcoin. Some sources point out that the BTC Global had also targeted East Africa’s largest Economy, Kenya. However, Kenyan authorities have not released any statement, neither do they seem to have any clue of the BTC Global activities in the East African country.
The police have pointed out that the BTC Global was initially paying back the return on investments, as profits only to default and go under after some time.
“…the investors were targeted and encouraged by BTC Global agents, a number of members of the public were paid as per the agreement, However, BTC Global suddenly stopped the payments.”
Yolisa Matakata, investigative police spokesman said.
When the South African investors realised that they had invested their money in a fake venture, reports were made to the police. The main salesperson has been identified, as Steven Twain who has since switched off his phone, closed his email account and deleted his social media profile. Nobody knows his whereabout or even whether Steven Twain is even his real name. The police have promised to work day and night to solve this case.
A Little too Late, Expected Backlash
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB), SA’s central bank, had instituted a committee to formulate policies to guide Cryptocurrencies. In recent days, however, the SARB issued a statement in Pretoria, asserting that Cryptocurrencies are crypto “tokens” rather than currencies.
In the coming days, the investors are expected to vent their anger to the SARB, and the police for laxity in protecting investors. The police believe that the case is just a tip of the iceberg, as some investors have refused to come forward in utter disbelief, shock, anger, and fear of ridicule from friends and the society at large.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to intervene and give a way forward. Meanwhile, the future of crypto “tokens” is seeming rather bleak in this progressive African country.