Kenyans have lost millions in local currency after a Bitcoin scam operated by a Brazilian abruptly went dark.
Ricardo Rocha, the Brazilian who was behind the Bitcoin scam, told investors that they would earn huge returns from their investments. All the investors needed was to let Rocha invest their money in Bitcoins. As a bonus, the leading investor would be offered an all-expenses-paid trip to the UAE.
To seize the opportunity, Esther Muthoni invested Ksh3.2 million (approximately $32,000) into the Bitcoin scam and also introduced a friend who invested Ksh550,000 (approximately $5,500).
As reported by Daily Nation, a local news outlet, the Bitcoin scam was being propagated through a company known as Velox 10 Global which entered the Kenyan scene in the third quarter of 2017.
To be an investor, one was to first deposit Ksh10,000 ($100) as a registration fee. Investors also had an optional chance to deposit an additional Ksh20,000 ($200) so as to scale the membership rank. Ricardo would then invest the money and disseminate Ksh400,000 ($4,000) to investors on a daily basis.
To help sell the Bitcoin scam, the Brazilian partnered with locals; Sarah Nyambura, Jane Nyambura, and Paul Mugo. Another partner, Daniel Gichuki, was appointed by Rocha as the local agent. Investors wired money to Gichuki’s bank account.
Although the agent has since been arrested, he maintains that he was an investor and has also lost in the Bitcoin scam. Rocha was arrested but later released.
According to the Daily Nation:
The two website names the company was associated with are no longer accessible. Velox10.com is up for sale, under auction by an IT firm called BGroup. The second one, Veloxglobal.com, reads ‘This website is parked for free’. An IT expert contacted said the message means the website was a dummy page and likely never existed.
Some of the investors who were caught up in the Bitcoin scam have blamed the country’s financial regulators – Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) – for failing in their regulatory control.
Although Kenya lacks a regulatory framework around cryptocurrencies, the country’s top bank (CBK), has been continuously warning Kenyan’s against investing in cryptocurrencies.
Do you think the Bitcoin scam, as with other crypto scams, was banking on the thirst for easy money?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.