South Africa Is Looking at $3.6B Bitcoin Fraud as Africrypt Founders Flee

South Africa is looking at the country’s biggest cryptocurrency fraud as the two Africrypt founders, Raees and Ameer Cajee, disappeared with Bitcoins worth $3.6 billion belonging to the investors of the fund.

Ameer Cajee, who is the chief operating officer of Africrypt, wrote to the investors on April 13 informing them that the investment platform has been hacked which forced them to halt operations.

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He elaborated that the company was trying to recover the funds and urged the investors not to inform law enforcement as that might delay the recovery process. Africrypt investors include several high-profile South Africans and celebrities.

A Cape Town law firm representing the victims is suspecting that the two founders have fled to the United Kingdom with around 69,000 Bitcoins. The amount involved easily makes it one of the biggest crypto frauds in the world, let alone South Africa.

The law firm further found that the brothers transferred pooled funds from the South African bank accounts and clients’ wallets and then broke the Bitcoins into pieces and sent them to mixers.

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Investors Need to Be Cautious

Last year, thousands of South Africans were defrauded by Mirror Trading International (MTI), a local Bitcoin trader company that is now under liquidation, for around 23,000 Bitcoins.

Africrypt, however, has a different business plan than MTI, which followed a pure multi-level marketing model. But both the companies claimed to be using computer algorithms for trading cryptocurrencies and generating profits.

Cajee brothers also lured investors with a guarantee of jaw-dropping 10 percent daily returns on the investments, a claim which should have immediately raised suspensions.

Though the case has been reported to the Hawks, an elite unit of the South African police, Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), and the SA Reserve Bank, a tussle is going on over the jurisdiction.

“We don’t have jurisdiction, but we are looking at complaints to see if there is a financial product hidden in there,” said Brandon Topham, head of enforcement at the FSCA.

South African regulators are already alert to the growing crypto scams and working to bring regulations to the local crypto industry. The central bank also barred international transactions for the purchase of cryptocurrencies.

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