South Africa has been hit by another grander bitcoin scam with the masterminds carting off with $3.8 billion, claiming that the system had been hacked.
The scam was engineered by two brothers – Raees and Ameer Cajee – who ran a bitcoin investment platform called Africrypt.
Victims of the scam include high net worth individuals and celebrities, among others, whose digital wallets were cleared within hours, according to an analysis by Hanekom Attorneys.
Experts deem the claim of a hack as suspicious, as the brothers fled the country to the United Kingdom days after it happened, urging victims not to report the case to authorities.
They had explained that not reporting the case to the authorities would facilitate the recovery of their assets from hackers.
“We urge all clients to please be patient as we attempt to resolve the situation at hand. It is understandable that clients may proceed the legal route, but we ask clients to please acknowledge that this will only delay the recovery process,” Africrypt told clients via email.
Prior to the Africrypt scam, 260,000 South African digital currency enthusiasts had lost money to a multi-leveled scam organised by Mirror Trading International (MTI).
The scam stretched beyond the shores of South Africa into countries such as Canada and the US state of Texas.
However, Africrypt’s scam dwarfs MTI’s, as authorities say that the scam could be the country’s biggest yet.
Hanekom Attorney’s Darren Hanekom suggests that the funds received by the Cajee brothers did not come from South Africans, adding that Africrypt could have been a front for a money-laundering operation for international parties.
Hanekom Attorneys, in its report, noted that “R54 billion has been transferred from its South African account(s) through bitcoin on the blockchain, and has regrettably, now been dissipated in its entirety. Whilst we are still in the process of investigating the transfer of funds, with transactions on the blockchain being active up and until even date, upon an initial reconciliation, it seems that the funds were subjected to various dark web tumblers and mixers, resulting in severe fragmentation.”
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Investors were promised 10 percent daily returns, with investors putting in sums as high as $105,000 to $1.4 million.
Wooing investors at a presentation, Raees Cajee – who is Africrypt’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – explained that the desire to start Africrypt started with a keen interest in the world of cryptocurrency since he was 8 years old.
He claimed to have developed an AI-powered trading algorithm that he described as a “dynamic and innovative trading system that has fuelled Africrypt’s astronomical growth from a one-man operation running out of a bedroom to one of Africa’s largest and most successful AI trading companies in only a few years.”