AfriCrypt founders vanished along with 69,000 Bitcoin worth $3.6 billion at the time of theft.
The founders’ calls are directed to voicemails and the AfriCrypt website is down.
Two brothers, Ameer & Raees Cajee, who are the founders of South Africa crypto investment platform AfriCrypt have disappeared along with 69,000 Bitcoin. With BTC hovering around $33,000, the vanished coin is worth about $2.27 billion, but at the time was worth $3.6 billion.
Investors began to suspect AfriCrypt when one of the brothers, Ameer, told clients that the company was attacked. Ameer, the chief operating officer (COO) of the investment company, informed clients of the attack and asked them not to report the incident to the authorities. The COO tried to convince investors that reporting to lawyers and regulators may delay the process of recovering the lost funds.
While informing investors of the hack, AfriCrypt warned:
Clients may proceed the legal route, but we ask clients to please acknowledge that this will only delay the recovery process.
AfriCrypt lost $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin
At the time of the attack, the crypto was worth $3.6 billion and it vanished from several wallets within hours. Investors were required to deposit funds through EFT into the company’s local FNB bank account. After the theft, however, FNB declared that it has no relationship with AfriCrypt. The bank stated:
FNB once again confirms that it does not have a banking relationship with Africrypt. Due to client confidentiality, FNB cannot provide any information on specific bank accounts.
After AfriCrypt sent the message to its clients, some investors hired Hanekom Attorneys to investigate the matter. In addition, a separate group of investors began liquidation proceedings against the investment company.
In response to email questions, Hanekom Attorneys said:
We were immediately suspicious as the announcement implored investors not to take legal actions. Africrypt employees lost access to the back-end platforms days before the alleged hack.
Results from the hack investigation revealed that the company transferred the funds from its South African accounts and client’s wallets. The funds were subjected to “various dark web tumblers and mixers, resulting in server fragmentation” to make it untraceable.
To worsen the situation, Cajee and Raees are not reachable. Attempts to contact them through phone calls failed as their calls went directly to voicemail. Additionally, Africrypt’s website is also down.
Even though South African regulators are now aware of the hack, the Finance Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is currently forbidden from conducting a formal investigation. According to the regulator’s head of enforcement Brandon Topham, the prohibition is because crypto assets are not considered legal, financial products.
Crypto scams in South Africa
Crypto scams have been rampant in South Africa for some time. This has led South African regulators to release a paper explaining that crypto assets will be properly regulated in a structured manner.
Reports have revealed that Mirror Trading International (MTI) was the world’s biggest scam in 2020. In the year, South African investors lost about 23,000 BTC, and MTI’s CEO Johann Steynberg escaped to Brazil to avoid punishment.
Meanwhile, China is currently continuing with a Bitcoin crackdown which has affected a lot of crypto mining businesses. China’s decision against cryptocurrencies came after the fear of fraud, money laundering, and other risks associated with crypto.
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