Mirror Trading International collapses, R5B worth of bitcoin lost

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GK CRONJE

20 April 2021

CEO, Johann Steynberg, fled the country with over R5 billion worth of investors’ bitcoin.

Suzuki Ermelo (WEB) 22 September 2020.jp

BTC Global, better known as Mirror Trading International, was a bitcoin investment scam that ran from mid-2017 to early 2018. It claimed to offer clients a way to invest in a trading pool managed by a “master trader”, Steven Twain. Social media was flooded with recruitment posts, with many of the posts being flogged by residents in and around Ermelo, hoping to get rich quick. Many residents in Ermelo and surroundings foolishly touted MTI as the golden goose of the ages, and condescendingly looked down upon those who saw it as a scam.

A reported 27 000 people were scammed by BTC Global, including South Africans, Americans, and Australians. MTI went through a few iterations, but its surge in growth came after it adopted a multilevel marketing referral system and switched away from more conventional “copy trading” to purportedly using an automated trading program, or “bot”. Several warnings were issued from official bodies, including the Texas State Securities Board, Canada’s Autorité des Marchés Financiers, and South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). South Africans, however, decided to look the other way. In its warning from August last year, the FSCA recommended that people withdraw their money from MTI as soon as possible. “Mirror Trading International is another example of why the industry must spread the word that algorithmic trading platforms promising unrealistically high returns are nearly always scams.

When cryptocurrency exchanges and other services learn of these scams and receive their cryptocurrency addresses, they should discourage users from sending funds to those addresses or at least warn them that financial losses are highly likely.” cryptocurrency observer and venture capitalist, Dovey Wan, said in a statement. This follows the final collapse of MTI after its CEO, Johann Steynberg, fled the country with over R5 billion worth of investors’ bitcoin. According to the South African common law, liquidators are in a position to claim money back from participants of this illegal scheme.