File image: Reuters.

CAPE TOWN - Around 27‚000 cryptocurrency investors in South Africa, USA and Austrailia have been fooled by what is seen as one of the biggest Bitcoin scams, TimesLive reported.

Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha confirmed they will be investigating complaints against BTC Global‚ a company which asked investors to send their cryptocurrency to an online wallet address.

“The amount is over $50 million and could rise as more victims come forward,” Ramovha told TimesLive.

He said the company was being investigated for violating the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, but could not confirm whether it was a Ponzi scheme or if the people behind it are South African.

Victims from South Africa told TimesLive they had invested between R16‚000 and R1.4 million with BTC Global. BTC Global promised investors that if they sent their Bitcoin to its wallet address they would receive guaranteed returns of 14% per week.

BTC Global’s selling point was the skill of its “master trader” Steve Twain, whom many victims believe does not exist. Currently, on its website it displays a message which states that Steven Twain is missing. The company has also pleaded with victims to stop threatening harm to the admin team. 

Earlier in this year, Debt Rescue CEO, Neil Roets told media that South Africans have been driven to the brink of bankruptcy after buying into cryptocurrency. While certain consumers who approached Roets for debt counseling had fallen victim to hackers and scams.

“To my amazement, many of them had been the victims of scams involving cryptocurrencies which promised massive returns,” he added.

Werner Van Rooyen, Head of the Business Development and Marketing at Bitcoin Company Luno, revealed that these are the warning signs to look out for if you might be dealing with an illegal cryptocurrency scheme:

1. Promises of very high returns/interest
2. Guarantees that you "can't lose money"
3. Little verifiable information on company and owners
4.Difficulties in withdrawing your funds
5. Social signup links with high bonuses
6. Sense of urgency to "invest now"

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE