Kenyan police are on the hunt for a cryptocurrency scammer who allegedly made away with Sh2.7 billion ($26.6 million). The scammer lured the investors with promises of incredible returns, and as with many other scams, it worked. Thousands of investors rushed to put in their money, only to realize later that it was a scam.
The man behind it all is Isaac Muthui, a man who posed as a pastor to gain the trust of any. Muthui is the chief executive officer of Church Blaze Group, the company that developed Nurucoin. Aware that most people trusted companies affiliated with religious outfits, he reached out to investors through church gatherings. It worked, and as local news outlet Standard Media reported, at least 11,000 Kenyans invested in the project.
Trouble began early on, with Muthui running the project in a dictatorial manner. His partners soon got fed up and exited the company, realizing that they weren’t involved in the decision-making process. One of the partners confronted Muthui who reportedly told him, “Church Blaze is my own small kiosk.”
Muthui began spending money meant for operations to fund a lavish lifestyle. He believed that he had to look successful to lure the investors. He bought new vehicles, for himself and his wife, went on vacations overseas and bought a house in one of Nairobi’s high-end neighborhoods.
By the time the investors realized that Nurucoin was a scam, it was already too late. The investors stormed the local Nurucoin offices, but to their dismay, the offices had already been shut down. The company’s headquarters were also shut down due to its failure to pay the rent, with the employees all being let go a few months prior.
Despite the tell-tale signs that Nurucoin is a scam, Muthui says that his story has been misrepresented. He reached out to the outlet after he was exposed, claiming innocence. He first disputed reports that he had collected $27 million, saying the amount was lower than this. He refused to disclose the amount.
And while the Kenyan laws don’t allow companies to crowdfund in the manner he did, Muthui told the outlet he did nothing wrong “as none of the investors was coerced to entrust him with their money.” He had the right intentions, he claimed, which was to create a decentralized platform that would combine AirBnB, eBay, Facebook and Jumia into one. However, he said his partners, the Kenyan central bank and other regulators got in the way.
This is not the first crypto scam in Kenya, with fraudsters taking advantage of the crypto hype in the country. One of the biggest was Velox 10, a scam that promised investors daily returns of up to $4,000. But as with all other projects that promised ludicrous returns, it ended up being a scam, closed its offices, shut down its website and made away with millions of dollars.
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