The latest crypto fraud that has rocked Kenyans is called Bitstream Circle, a ponzi scheme designed by Kenyan and Chinese fraudsters, with mostly Kenyan investors.
According to Kenya’s Nation newspaper, the company, which had promised a daily profit return of 5-10% of invested amount, appeared on the internet on December 7, 2021.
It gained more than 10, 000 followers on its Telegram page in a short time. To be added to the ‘Bit Elite Team’ group, one had to make a $20 (Sh2, 340) deposit.
One of the scheme’s tactic was to use a mentor who was assigned to investors to show them how to convert their shillings into cryptocoins, trade, earn profit, and withdraw their money. The mentors would send signals to investors on when to trade and how to earn a profit.
There were at least five trading sessions in a 24-hour cycle. For every session, investors could gain 1-2% of their deposit, which added up to 5% at the end of the day.
Once you cashed in, you had the option of leaving your wins in Tether ($USDT), which was the currency people made investments in, or withdrawing them to Binance where you could convert them to shillings and transfer them to your phone by M-PESA.
According to the Nation newspaper report:
“But there was a catch. An investor could only make one withdrawal a day, which took half an hour before reaching the Binance account. Despite this, people kept signing up sometimes at the rate of 500 per day.”
– The Nation Newspaper, Kenya
Everything went well until March 13 2022 when users began noticing delays in withdrawals. When asked, the firm said it was upgrading its systems. The upgrade would last five hours. Then the worst happened on March 14 2022.
An administrator of the page posted to the 10, 914 investors.
“You are a bunch of brainless races, see you on our next plan. Bye, haha. I am living a luxurious life with your dollars. If you have invited friends, wait to be killed by your recommenders. Idiots.
There will be a time to meet.”
– Administrator, Telegram Group, Bitstream Circle
That is how it unravelled for the investors.
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