A suspected crypto scam that has cost investors over 1.5 billion Brazilian reals ($359 million) has been shut down by Brazilian police. Last week, police in the state of Curitiba raided the offices of an unnamed organization in Sao Paulo.
Authorities said as many as 5,000 victims were promised that they would receive huge returns on their crypto investment. The scammers allegedly found their victims using social media. After the funds were sent in, individuals were told to wait as they would receive a return on their investment of 3% to 4% per day. The investors were not allowed to withdraw funds from their account, which eventually disappeared.
Police received complaints about four months ago and began an extensive investigation. The investigation concluded with nine individuals arrested on charges of money laundering, fraud, forgery, and criminal association.
In 2018, it was discovered that government officials had embezzled funds from the prison budget, stealing over $22 million by laundering it through the use of the cryptocurrency.
This last June the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, made a statement on national TV where he explained that he “doesn’t know” exactly what crypto is. At the same time, the former chief of the central bank, Ilan Goldfajn, compared the currency to a “pyramid scheme.”
These kinds of stories are becoming commonplace. On November 25, attorney Mark Scott was found guilty of helping a company that laundered millions of dollars in money that they had been scammed from investors. According to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, Scott “lined his pockets with over $50 million of the money stolen from victims of the OneCoin scheme. Scott, who boasted of earning ‘50 by 50’ now faces 50 years in prison for his crimes.”
Days earlier, the Department of Justice extradited a man from Thailand so he could stand trial for crypto fraud. According to the DoJ, Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson was charged with defrauding victims of over $11 million.
As for the nine who were arrested in Brazil, no word has been given as to when they will appear in court. Law enforcement officials provided no additional information related to the arrest.
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