Furious investors burn alleged Ponzi scheme operator’s home

2019-07-11 16:16
The house of a man who is believed to be the founder or manager of an investment scheme in Ladysmith, called Bitcoin Wallet, was set alight late on Wednesday as angry investors demanded their money back.

The house of a man who is believed to be the founder or manager of an investment scheme in Ladysmith, called Bitcoin Wallet, was set alight late on Wednesday as angry investors demanded their money back. (CLAUDINE SENEKAL/LADYSMITH HERALD)

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Hundreds of people looted and set alight the family home of a man who operated what is believed to be a Ponzi scheme in Ladysmith on Wednesday.

Ladysmith firefighters and police were called to the house of the man behind a company called Bitcoin Wallet in Tsakane township.

No one was inside the house when it was torched. The man’s luxury vehicle was also destroyed by fire.

Those responsible for the blaze are believed to be investors who have lost thousands of rands.

Bitcoin Wallet investors had taken the law into their own hands because the man was unreachable.

On Tuesday night, hundreds of people who had invested money in the alleged Ponzi scheme gathered outside the Ladysmith police station after rumours spread on social media that the owner of the company had been arrested. Police denied there had been any arrest.

The investment frenzy has gripped Ladysmith residents for the last three months, with some people taking out loans to invest money with the company. Investors said the investment scheme promised a 100% return in 15 days.

They said the company ostensibly acted as a Bitcoin exchange broker trading on their behalf.

Bitcoin is the world’s first cryptocurrency, which is purely digital.

It is highly volatile, gaining and losing huge amounts of value over relatively short periods of time.

People planning to invest with the company had been sleeping in the streets and vacant lots to secure a place in the queue to hand over their money.

On Tuesday night, the concerned investors were heard demanding their money outside the police station.

They had apparently taken the company’s employees to the police station, where police rescued them from the angry crowd.

While it is not clear whether or not the company has officially closed, investors said they were told that the its online account had been hacked and monies had been paid into fraudulent accounts after it had decided to try its hand at trading online.

Last week, the owner of the company informed investors that he had closed down his offices on the instruction of the municipality.

However, the Alfred Duma Local Municipality subsequently issued a statement denying the man’s claim.

He is alleged to have then told investors that the company had gone online and that they needed to upload their details to be paid out.

The man had built a reputation for liking the finer things in life and carrying large sums of money.

He also gave cash to anyone who asked for a handout on the streets and in malls.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  ponzi scheme
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