business person inspecting document with magnifying glass

Africrypt founders under probe over $3.6B scam in South Africa

South African authorities have launched a probe into the continent’s largest digital currency scam following complaints by a group of victims. The probe follows the involvement of a mysterious Dubai company that has been compensating some of the $3.6 billion Africrypt BTC scam victims.

As CoinGeek reported, Africrypt was a massive scam perpetrated by two brothers, Ameer and Raees Cajee, aged 18 and 21, respectively. The brothers allegedly targeted high-net worth individuals and celebrities in South Africa, luring them with promises of lucrative returns. They urged their clients to keep the project a secret, which inadvertently lured even more people, authorities said.

It all came crashing down as all scams do, and customers started being unable to access their funds. The Cajees at first claimed that Africrypt had been hacked, but cybersecurity experts later linked the “hackers” wallet addresses to the two brothers. They then tried to keep the scam a secret by urging their clients not to report to authorities, but it all imploded after some time.

As Bloomberg recently reported, South African police have launched a new probe into the scam after a group of investors filed complaints. This is reportedly after some victims started receiving some of their lost investment from Pennython Project Management LLC, a mysterious Dubai-based firm.

The South African Police Services’ Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known locally as Hawks, is spearheading the investigation. It’s already conducting its probe in four provinces, including Johannesburg and Durban, Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase told the media outlet.

“There are multiple victims in these cases. Investigations are ongoing,” Nkwalase commented.

The colonel further pointed out that the financial statements of the victims are being analyzed as they attempt to track down the two brothers. Hawks have yet to place an official value on the size of the crime. This is despite earlier reports claiming the Cajee brothers made off with more than $3.6 billion, a figure that their lawyer at the time dismissed.

The Hawks officers have also been investigating yet another mega BTC scam-Mirror Trading International (MTI). MTI was reported to have made off with over $1 billion, but unlike Africrypt, it targeted victims from across the world, not just South Africans. 

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—a from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRippleEthereum, FTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.