OneCoin Ponzi Scheme: Scam of the Decade Continues in 2020’s Oceania
Recently, we’ve published an investigation into a large-scale Ponzi-scheme called OneCoin. The scheme had its branches in several different countries across several continents, defrauding people of billions of dollars.
The project appeared dead and its official website onecoin.eu was shut down as of November 30th, 2019. But, since January 8th, 2020, the website is back online.
It seems that the scheme is still operating, at least in New Zealand.
forklog.media puts together the latest findings regarding OneCoin’s fate, as well as a brief reminder about its notorious past.
New Zealand Reports
The story with OneCoin in New Zealand unfolds at least since May 2019. Back then, RNZ Pacific wrote that three people from the local Samoan community claimed that they lost tens of thousands of dollars to the scam.
OneCoin’s “independent contractors” were targeting the vulnerable Samoan minority via two local churches: the Samoa Worship Centre and the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (SISDAC). The scammers allegedly exploited the places of worship and the cultural tradition of trusting the elders to get more followers.
The Samoan Central Bank was “exploring possible action against OneCoin,” while New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority issued a warning about the project’s suspicious nature and said it had “no powers to pursue the overseas company.”
By June 14th, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) initiated a probe into SISDAC. The probe wasn’t focused on OneCoin in particular. The information about the scam emerged as a side product during an investigation under the Charities Act 2005.
Allegedly, SISDAC and other churches in New Zealand were transferring the cryptocurrency to Samoa, where OneCoin is banned.
According to RNZ Pacific, one of OneCoin’s former contractors said that “their work was facilitated” by a New Zealand woman Sina Hunt, who effectively brought OneCoin to the country.
Sina Hunt was a member of SISDAC and contributed to convincing the church officials to invest in the OneCoin scheme. The former contractor also said that Hunt was regularly meeting the officials to promote investment into OneCoin. The woman organized several public events for potential investors, boasting the appearances by important church figures.
The latest update to the story came through on January 20th, 2020. According to the reports, The DIA is now investigating the Auckland-based Samoa Worship Centre over its links to OneCoin. Now both SISDAC and Samoa Worship Centre are under the Internal Affairs’ scrutiny.
Both organizations are also suspected of money-laundering and are being investigated by Samoa’s police and Central Bank.
The church organizations deny their involvement in money-laundering and links to OneCoin.
OneCoin In a Nutshell
OneCoin was launched in August 2014 by Ruja Ignatova, a Bulgarian-native businesswoman. She acted as a public face of the project and was presented as a multilingual genius and one of the richest women in Europe, holding two academic degrees. Before OneCoin, she was involved in a $50 million scam called BigCoin.
According to the U.S. prosecutors, over its first three years of operation, OneCoin has collected over $4 billion, but the actual figures may be larger.
OneCoin was, or still is, selling its coins disguised as “educational packages” through an affiliated company called OneLife. The latter works as a multi-level marketing project selling “educational” pdf files with plagiarized memos for traders. Each package also includes some of the scammers’ coins, supposedly for free.
The promise was that investors will be able to sell the coins at a profit on the xcoinc exchange when it is launched. The exchange is still not operational and there is no information about the actual development efforts.
The scheme has managed to lure investors across the world. The list of affected countries includes Russia, Austria, Germany, the UK, China, and Vietnam, as well as African and Middle-Eastern countries. Now it appears that New Zealand, Samoa, and Australia are also on the list.
You can find more details about OneCoin’s notorious adventures in the investigation feature on forklog.media.
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