South African Crypto Investment Platform Goes Offline with $3.60bln at Stake
About 69,000 Bitcoin, as well as siblings who ran the crypto business, have disappeared from a South African investment scheme. Even though facts are still to be established in court, Bloomberg reports that if it ends out to be an exit scam instead of a cyberattack, it would be the largest in history. There were red flags for investors in either case, with users apparently promising daily profits of more to 10%.
AfriCrypt was created in 2019 by siblings Ameer and Raees Cajee and is run by them. When it delivered a letter to clients on April 13 alleging the site had been compromised, it had apparently amassed about 54 billion rand worth BTC (~$3.60 billion) at that time.
The company said that it would suspend activities while it worked to “recover stolen cash and sensitive material.” The statement contained the caution that “customers may pursue the legal path, but we you- to please understand that this will simply prolong the process of recovery,” according to Hanekom Attorneys, a South African law company that has initiated the lawsuit on behalf of aggrieved consumers. “We were concerned right away since the notice urged investors not to sue,” Hanekom Attorneys stated. “Africrypt personnel lost control over the back-end systems seven days earlier to the purported security breach,” as per the legal firm.
According to Hanekom Attorneys, the brothers moved 69,000 BTC from AfriCrypt’s accounts and customer wallets, and then submitted the coins to “different dark web tumblers and mixers, resulting in significant fragmentation” to make the assets untraceable.
The brothers were unable to reach, with calls getting directed to voicemail, and the AfriCrypt website is now offline. The legal company has submitted the case to the “Hawks,” a regional police special squad.
The Cajee brothers were given until July 19, 2021 to reply to a temporary liquidation notification order issued by the Gauteng South High Court in South Africa. AfriCrypt lured consumers by approaching super wealthy individuals and encouraging them to refer their friends, as per African online crypto news portal BitcoinKe.
It reportedly offered daily profits of up to 10%. The eyebrow raising daily return pegs the 10% monthly return guaranteed to consumers of Mirror Trading International (MTI), a South African crypto Ponzi fraud, in dim light.
MTI was dubbed the country’s greatest Ponzi scam, raking in 23,000 BTC ($774 million at today’s values) from investors, with MTI’s CEO, Johann Steynberg, apparently escaping to Brazil to avoid prosecution after the company was put under provisional liquidation in 2020.