A Ponzi scheme known as Praetorian Group has been shut down in the UK, following an investigation by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and a 2021 warning by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines.
Praetorian Group International Trading Inc (PGI) calls itself a network marketing company that sells crypto trading packages, blockchain education, and physical health products. It claims to have offices in the US, Singapore, Estonia, and the Philippines. Crypto exchanges BitMEX and BitBuy are used to handle trades.
On Thursday, the UK High Court shut down PGI’s UK branch for failing to cooperate in its unregistered securities investigation and for failing to produce records. The Official Receiver has been appointed liquidator.
UK investors said they were unable to withdraw their funds after promised returns of 200% never materialized. Three bank accounts tied to PGI received over £600,000 ($700,000) from investors between July 2020 and February 2021. That account was used to pay £10,000 ($11,500) to a luxury department store and sent around £200,000 ($231,000) to personal accounts.
The SEC Philippines called PGI a Ponzi scheme back in 2021. Its chief executive officer and founder is Filipino MLM marketer and registered nurse Ramil Ventura (RV) Palafox, who grew up in the US. He claims to have lived there for over forty years.
The US has also taken action against PGI. PGI’s website was seized by the US DoJ and Department of the Treasury after a warrant in Virginia. However, a copycat website has cropped up once more.
How PGI Group’s Ponzi scheme works
According to PGI’s website, its main product is crypto trading. Members can “earn a passive income of 0.5% to 3.0% daily” if they purchase a package. There are four tiers, each more concerning than the next:
- Sapphire: For just $100 upfront, make up to $500 worth of bitcoin.
- Ruby: Pay $1,000 and earn up to $10,000 in BTC.
- Emerald: $20,000 gets you a maximum of $100,000 in bitcoin back.
- Diamond: Unlimited rewards… for only $500,000 worth of BTC.
Each tier involves different chances of earning bonuses, each with purposefully vague and confusing terms. A package is only valid for up to a year or will be prematurely terminated once the member acquires 200% profits. Some rules stipulate members can only withdraw up to $20 per week.
However, the potential rewards don’t end there. Members may also benefit from a wide range of health products, such as Praetorian slimming coffee, Praetorian negative ion napkins, and Praetorian massage chairs.
PGI will also award the most active recruiters with “anything from a Montblanc pen to a Luxury Car,” a claim that is accompanied with a photo of a red Lamborghini Huracan.
Prospective members are given instructions to look up the current exchange rate of their local currency into bitcoin, take a screenshot, and send it to PGI along with proof of a bitcoin deposit into its wallet.
In 2016, an American man by the name of Ramil Palafox was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking six Filipina women for a global syndicate. They were apprehended before boarding an airplane to Hong Kong. However, Protos was unable to confirm a connection to the MLM leader, who is thought to now reside in Dubai.