$50 Million Gone? South African Police Probe Suspected Bitcoin Ponzi

As much as $50 million may have been lost by an international group of investors after putting their money into a bitcoin investment group.

Mar 2, 2018 at 9:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:38 a.m. UTC

As much as $50 million may have been lost by an international group of investors after putting their money into a bitcoin investment group called BTC Global.

A report from South African news outlet Sunday Times indicates that "more than 27,500 people" may be impacted, with investors spread across South Africa, Australia and the U.S., among other areas. Some victims have reportedly claimed that they lost as much as $117,000 to the scheme.

A spokesperson for South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – popularly known as the Hawks – said the commercial crimes unit is investigating the matter as a potential Ponzi scheme. The spokesperson did note that the group was being investigated for failing to abide by the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act.

Further complicating the situation, individuals in control of the official BTC Global website have posted a statement claiming that the group's funds manager, Steven Twain, had disappeared on February 18.

The message further claims that there has been no contact since that time.

"Steven did not acknowledge receipt of the information. Steven has not contacted anyone in leadership or admin team," the post states. "No payments have been made by Steven ... If anyone has ANY information on how we can get in contact with him please get in touch and let us know.”

Yet allegations that BTC Global is a Ponzi scheme have been floated in the past, including a February 16 post on Medium by Jessie Holmes which claimed that Steven Twain is not a real person.

The collapse of the investment group has reportedly triggered a series of death threats against those involved. According to the Times, one of the site’s administrators, Cheri Ward, has been granted a protection order against one person who claimed Ward was responsible for the scam.

Additionally, Ward has reportedly filed criminal charges against another person who threatened her.

Police tape image via Shutterstock

The Festival for the Decentralized World
Thursday - Sunday, June 9-12, 2022
Austin, Texas
Save a Seat Now

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Trending

1
CoinDesk - Unknown
The Curious Case of Coinbase's India Communications Strategy

Reverberations remain from the company's ill-fated Indian launch.

Reverberations remain from the company's ill-fated Indian launch.

CoinDesk - Unknown
2
CoinDesk - Unknown
First Mover Asia: Crypto Carbon Trading Is Racing to Clean Up Its Act; Cryptos Drop Even as Stocks Rise

Carbon credit protocols have had a difficult time in recent months but have been working to improve the way they operate; bitcoin outperformed other major cryptocurrencies in Thursday trading.

Carbon credit protocols have had a difficult time in recent months but have been working to improve the way they operate; bitcoin outperformed other major cryptocurrencies in Thursday trading.

CoinDesk - Unknown
3
CoinDesk - Unknown
Terra Devs Need a Home. Other Blockchains Are Courting Them

Armed with multimillion-dollar ecosystem funds, chains like Polygon and Kadena are trying to woo coders whose work is endangered by Terra’s meltdown.

Armed with multimillion-dollar ecosystem funds, chains like Polygon and Kadena are trying to woo coders whose work is endangered by Terra’s meltdown.

CoinDesk - Unknown
4
CoinDesk - Unknown
Circle Recommends Against a Digital Dollar, and Ethereum Beacon Chain Suffers Longest ‘Reorg’ in Years

The most valuable crypto stories for Thursday, May 26, 2022.

The most valuable crypto stories for Thursday, May 26, 2022.

CoinDesk - Unknown