Africrypt: Alleged $3.6B Bitcoin Ponzi missing just $5M, says founder
South African brothers accused of running a multi-billion-dollar Bitcoin Ponzi scheme instead claim only $5 million is missing from Africrypt, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
Africrypt was a self-styled fund that promised to invest client money in crypto markets to unlock further value.
In April, Africrypt’s 19-year-old chief operating officer Ameer Cajee reportedly told clients the fund’s systems had been hacked, completely draining their capital.
Lawyers hired to track Africrypt’s money found $3.6 billion missing in total. Africrypt urged clients not to pursue legal action as it would purportedly slow the retrieval process.
Now, Africrypt founder Raees Cajee (21) — Ameer’s older brother — addressed the situation in a phone interview with WSJ from an undisclosed location on Monday. Raees denied handling anywhere near the $3.6 billion figure.
That same day, Bloomberg reported the Cajee brothers had sacked their lawyer.
Africrypt managed funds for shady characters
The Cajee brothers are believed to have left South Africa fearing for their lives.
Africrypt’s client list included some “very dangerous people,” Raees told Dow Jones (via WSJ).
Lawyer Darren Hanekom (who represents Africrypt clients) told Independent Online the brothers fled to the UK. That was after they laundered allegedly stolen funds via crypto mixers and the dark web.
[Read more: Victims of $3.6B crypto Ponzi still believe they’ll get their money back]
Hanekom’s investigation revealed Bitcoin was siphoned from one of Africrypt’s addresses in early April.
The Cajees disappeared around the same time.
High-tech cover for an old-school scheme
Founded in 2019, the Cajees claimed to have grown their fund into one of Africa’s most successful crypto ventures.
And like Africrypt’s assets, the firm’s online footprint has largely vanished.
Archived snapshots offer insight into what the fund promised investors: AI-powered trades that created attractive returns.
“Our [AI] driven trading platform is a world class trading platform that uses complex deep learning, machine learning algorithms to effectively and efficiently trade automatically without human intervention,” said the site.
[Read more: Crypto Ponzis flood Spanish courts as thousands sue for millions]
South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) said in a press release last week the fund was likely a con.
“This entity was offering exceptionally high and unrealistic returns akin to those offered by unlawful investment schemes commonly known as Ponzis,” noted the FSCA.
The Cajee brothers continue to evade angry investors. Sadly, they’ve reportedly left family members in South Africa fearing potential repercussions.