South African Police on Friday said that the authorities are investigating an alleged cryptocurrency scam that defrauded investors of 1 billion rand ($80 million).
The fraud, involving a company named BTC Global, was orchestrated with promises of huge returns that never materialised.
BTC Global allegedly told clients they would earn two per cent per day, 14 per cent a week and 50 per cent in a month.
Reuters reports Friday that a search for the company on the internet showed its services had been suspended. Although, the website lists Steven Twain as the “primary trader”, request for comment sent to an email address listed on the website as belonging to Twain received no response.
“Members of the public are believed to have been targeted as part of the scam and encouraged by agents of BTC Global,” the police said in a statement Friday.
“Some of the investors got paid in terms of the agreement. However, the payments suddenly stopped.”
“This may prove to be the tip of the iceberg with potentially thousands more yet to discover they’ve lost money,” police investigator Yolisa Matakata said.
On Thursday South Africa’s central bank said it was in the process of determining whether cryptocurrencies complied with its financial surveillance and exchange control regulations.
Cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography (the art of writing and solving codes) to secure its transactions, control the creation of additional units, and to verify the transfer of assets.
In March, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cautioned Nigerians to be wary of investments in the digital currency, stressing that virtual currencies are not legal tender in Nigeria.
The bank said cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ripples, monero, litecoin, dogecoin, onecoin and exchanges such as NairaEx were not licensed or regulated by the CBN.