3 million conned in cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme

calendar iconFeb 25, 2020

In June 2019, an online digital currency Ponzi scheme disappeared after scamming over 3 million people and stealing over $3 billion in Bitcoin, Ethereum and EOC cryptocurrencies.

The impact of the PlusToken scam didn't stop at the millions of investors, based mostly in South Korea and China, it has also been attributed to the Bitcoin price drop of 2019. Beyond this, it's making people think twice about the threats of a cashless society. While the chance of receiving a fake banknote is almost inconceivable, crypto crime is growing at a truly alarming rate. The Wall Street Journal reports, "Bitcoin-based frauds raised more money in 2019 than in 2017 and 2018 combined".

“I was thinking, what’s the point of keeping money in the bank?”
"Seo Jin-ho, PlusToken victimAs quoted by Wall Street Journal (Feb 8, 2020)

For the millions of PlusToken victims, based mainly in South Korea and China, the value of cold, hard cash might be increasing. Between 2018 and the first half of 2019, victims were targeted via Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp - some in person. After persuading them to invest, "PlusToken" suddenly closed down their operation in June of 2019, leaving the message “sorry we have run“ on their website. With no one to turn to, over 200 PlusToken investors in Seoul pressed authorities to launch an investigation into the Ponzi scheme, sparking an international man-hunt.

While the hunt continues, most have accepted defeat, holding out hope for the possibility of one day opening their PlusToken wallets again.

“I already lost it...I didn’t see it.”
"Gary Condry, PlusToken victimAs quoted by Wall Street Journal (Feb 8, 2020)said.

Excerpt from Wall Street Journal

"Cryptocurrencies have struggled to find acceptance in the 11 years since bitcoin launched. At its height in 2017, bitcoin’s price neared $20,000, and it attracted a passionate following among some investors who predicted it would upend global finance and replace the dollar.

But the hype ran ahead of the fundamentals, and the bubble burst the next year. The number of average daily transactions in 2019, about 325,000, was up about 13% from 2017’s 288,000. But the dollar value of those transactions was flat. It totaled about $3.8 trillion in 2019, according to research firm TradeBlock, versus $3.7 trillion in 2017.

Still, there are plenty of inexperienced investors who have heard stories of bitcoin riches and think they can get rich, too. Fraudsters use that naiveté against them, said Christopher Janczewski, a special agent at the Internal Revenue Service who has led criminal investigations that involved cryptocurrencies."

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2020