Prosecutors in China have confirmed charges for four more individuals in connection with investigations into OneCoin, a cryptocurrency generally recognised as fraudulent. The suspects are thought to be the final four charges prosecutors were seeking in connection with the scheme, bringing the total number charged in the OneCoin investigation to 98.
The two-year investigation has spanned over 20 provinces across China, with authorities recognising the $2.3 billion scheme as one of the biggest investigations of its kind, ever. A total of 106 suspects had been identified during the investigation, with over 20,000 bank accounts and tens of millions of individual transactions scrutinised, according to the Zhuzhou Procuratorate’s Office in Hunan province.
The allegations around OneCoin centre on the idea that the cryptocurrency was in fact a pyramid, or MLM scheme. Known domestically as ‘Weika Coin’, the scheme offered would-be investors the opportunity to buy OneCoin, and to progress through up to 140 different membership levels.
Investigators have so far managed to recover around $260 million, and secured prosecutions leading to substantial fines and even prison sentences, with some receiving over 4 years behind bars for their part in the scheme.
OneCoin was founded by Bulgarian Ruja Ignatova, and quickly spread around the world, with those involved aggressively promoting OneCoin investments, while encouraging other investors to effectively act as evangelists for the coin in their own right.
Authorities in India, Hungary, United Kingdom, Belgium, Finland, and China have already issued stark warnings to investors about the scheme, as well as initiated their own investigations and prosecutions, where possible, against those responsible.
The Chinese investigation was by far the largest in scope, and the final four charges are expected to bring a close to the investigation stage of the prosecution against OneCoin’s promoters.
While authorities have managed to recover a proportion of the money, slightly more than 10%, most of those scammed by OneCoin are still heavily out of pocket, with no guarantees of ever seeing any of their funds again.
The OneCoin investigations serve as a reminder to cryptocurrency investors of the potential pitfalls, and the need to make informed decisions about which currencies or tokens to support.
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