South Africa’s elite policing unit, the Hawks, have confirmed that they are currently investigating a major Bitcoin scam which may have affected thousands of South Africans.
The scam is reported to have originated from a company called BTC global which is said to have had over $50 million worth of investors around the world.
“I have spoken to one of the investigators in our team and he has confirmed that this matter came to them about two weeks ago. There are in excess of 25‚700 complainants with many outside South Africa,” said Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha to TimesLive.
“The amount is over $50-million and could rise as more victims come forward. The investigation is in its infancy. I also cannot say whether it is a Ponzi scheme. BTC Global is being investigated for contravening the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act‚” he said.
TimesLIVE estimated that some individual South African investors had invested as much as R1.4 million with BTC Global.
The news of a major Bitcoin scam in South Africa follows a number of similar international schemes – the most recent of which saw Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of Bitcoin, swindling more than $5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency and other assets from the estate of a computer-security expert.
Speaking in a Reddit AMA on Wednesday, Microsoft founder and the world’s wealthiest man, Bill Gates, said that one of the biggest issues with Bitcoin was its anonymous nature.
“The main feature of crypto currencies is their anonymity. I don’t think this is a good thing. The Government’s ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing,” he said.
“Right now cryptocurrencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs, so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs and cryptocurrencies is super risky for those who go long.”