Nearly $50 mln in crypto assets have reportedly been stolen from investors who put their money into the Bitcoin investment group BTC Global, the South African Sunday Times reported.
The sole manager of investments at the company was the forex and commodities trader Steve Twain, from whom investors received irregular payouts until Twain disappeared altogether in Feb. 2018. The Sunday Times reported that BTC Global’s administrative team wrote a post on Facebook two weeks ago, stating they were unable to locate him.
More than 27,500 people from South Africa, Australia, and the United States have reportedly been swindled by “one of the biggest Bitcoin scams to hit South Africa”. Captain Lloyd Ramovha of the South African Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known popularly as the Hawks, has confirmed that the Serious Commercial Crimes Unit is investigating claims against BTC Global.
"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."
Investors deposited their funds into a single wallet address. Ramovha added that the sum of lost funds could increase as more victims come forward. Some investors have reported lost sums of over $113,000.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Antoon Botha of BMV Attorneys based in Bedfordview has confirmed that he has taken on clients who were involved with BTC Global. Following the formation of their arguments and mandates, they plan to take legal action against the company and its representatives.
Botha added that there is prima facie evidence to suggest instances of theft, common law fraud, and various transgressions of the Bank Act.
Cheri Ward, an administrator at BTC Global, maintains that there has been no fraud, and that investors have received returns and ought to have been aware the risks involved in investing in the fund.
“Every single person who invested in BTC Global did so of their own volition and subsequent to having conducted their own research into the fund. As is the case with any fund into which money is invested, there is no guarantee that an investor will be receiving any return on their investment.”
Cheri claims that Twain alone controlled and had access to the funds, and that the police are not investigating her regarding the incident.
According to Australia’s consumer watchdog the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) 1,200 people filed complaints of crypto scams in 2017. Cointelegraph has previously reported on common scams, and how to spot them.