Bitcoin has become one of the most lucrative cryptocurrencies and is rivalling some legal tenders in terms of popularity and acceptability. However, with this success also comes the potential for fraudulent activities like money laundering. For example, among the cryptocurrency scams recorded recently in South Africa, the Africrypt BTC scam takes the lion share due to 69,000 BTC (almost $4 billion) that disappeared. This makes the Africrypt scam the most expensive in cryptocurrency fraud history.
The Africrypt scandal may quicken the processes of regulations put in place by government institutions to stop the threat that cryptocurrency poses. However, one does not know whether to be surprised that this scam is taking place in South Africa again.
All about Africrypt
Just last year, Mirror Trading International (MTI), another cryptocurrency investment platform, scammed investors of about $589 million. Mirror Trading International (MTI) has in common its “too good to be true” return on investment.
When was Africrypt founded?
Two brothers, Ameer Cajee and Raees Cajee, founded Africrypt (Pty) Ltd in 2019. The Africrypt owners promised investors a monthly return of between 2% and 11% on their investment.
Africrypt offered three different levels of investment returns to their investors. An investor’s profit would depend on the kind of investment portfolio they subscribe to. The three portfolios to choose from were:
Raees, one of the Africrypt owners, gained investors' trust with a story detailing his crypto-trading proficiency. According to him, he became interested in bitcoin in 2009 when he was just nine years old.
He sustained this interest and developed an AI crypto-technology that has helped him mine over 100,000 Ethereum. His pitch convinced many celebrity investors, and as a result, some people invested between $100,000 and $1.5 million.
Apart from Africrypt (Pty), two other companies were later registered. Africrypt investments and Africrypt OTC were registered in January 2020 and March 2021.
Is Africrypt legit?
From the events that happened after raking in millions of Rands from clients in the country, it is not a fallacy to conclude that the company is not legitimate. Although not a single losing month was observed until August 2020, things went south on the 13th of April, 2021, when news about the Africrypt hacked system leaked out.
The cryptocurrency investment company sent the message to investors through the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Ameer Cajee. According to the letter sent, clients' accounts, wallets, and nodes were compromised because of a breach in their system. Because of that, the company could no longer continue operations. False hope was given to the investors. The letter read in part:
We have begun the process of attempting to retrieve stolen funds and compromised information. Our number one priority is retrieving the funds as speedily as possible, however, this process is very wary and will take a substantial amount of time to complete, if successful. Furthermore, we have begun a full system audit to determine the extent of the breach.
The owners advised the customers to keep the breach to themselves, and they would give updates on whatever progress they make in the recovery process. However, when some investors decided to employ a law firm to investigate the breach, the brothers had already disappeared. Hanekom Attorneys, the law firm in charge of the case, tried to trace the crypto movement and noticed that the funds were sent to large local exchanges.
How did the scam happen?
Although the company said they had been hacked, Hanekom Attorneys discovered that one of the allegedly hacked addresses was used to initiate a regular crypto transaction. The scammers transferred the pooled funds from their South African accounts and client wallets. From there, the coins went to other large pools of bitcoin to make them essentially untraceable.
Different South African institutions, including South Africa’s special police force, The Hawks, Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and South Africa Reserve Bank, have been pleaded with to help out on the case.
However, a top official with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, Brandon Topham, admitted that the government institution had no jurisdiction over the case. Nevertheless, he noted that they are trying to observe if they could find a financial product within the Africrypt scam. Africrypt latest news explained that the owners are no longer in South Africa. Some reports say that the owners have escaped to the United Kingdom.
On the 26th of April, 2021, Africrypt liquidation was granted provisionally against its directors by the Gauteng South High Court. This was granted in favour of a group of about 20 investors, although the two brothers have until the 19th of July, 2021, to argue against the liquidation.
So far, any attempt to initiate an Africrypt login will most likely reach a dead end. Some sources noted that the Africrypt website is no longer accessible since the fraudulent activity. As a result of this, accessing an Africrypt dashboard to obtain information is no longer possible.
South Africans seem to be falling prey to some of these scammers in recent times. Although Africrypt appeared to be a legitimate company with several juicy benefits, the owners ended up defrauding customers of their hard-earned money. Regrettably, this comes shortly after people recovered from their ugly experience with Mirror Trading International (MTI), another crypto company that defrauded many South Africans.
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