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One day, a financial scam. RFI invites you to return this week to these financial scams whose instigators command admiration through their ingenuity. Today, the story of two South African teenagers who managed, two years ago, to steal almost four billion dollars from investors.
Our story takes place in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. In 2019, two young brothers, Amir and Reez Cajee, decided to launch their investment platform in bitcoins, the most important cryptocurrency, still today.
They are both only 17 and 20 years old and it is one of the first companies of its kind on the African continent. This platform, they call it Africrypt. It allows investors to bet on bitcoin, in exchange for a small commission.
A promise of rapid return
From the end of 2020, that’s it, the value of bitcoin soars: the vein is the good one. Many South African investors create their account on the new platform of the two brothers. Amir and Reez even make a promise: “ If you invest with us, you can get a return of 10% per day ! »
It’s doubtful but it’s working well: the first customers are starting to get profits, advertising is done by word of mouth, investors are more and more numerous. So Amir and Reez Cajee get rich. They pose on social networks in front of sports cars and create a website and an Instagram account for Africrypt. They hire staff and even organize an event in a seaside golf course where investors are invited.
In a photo, they both appear seated on chairs from a low angle. Dressed in costume in front of a neon. Purple neon in the shape of the African continent, the logo of Africrypt. All is well, at least for now…
A legislative vacuum in South Africa
In mid-April 2021, when bitcoin was at its highest against the dollar, the two brothers sent an electronic message to investors: “ The Africrypt platform is frozen. We are victims of a computer hack. You can no longer access your account or your money. Please don’t notify the authorities : this would slow down the process to recover the funds “.
This “hacking” looks more like a scam. Africrypt employees no longer have the keys to the platform. And the funds, all the money, disappears. 69,000 bitcoins at its highest level ever, this corresponds to 4 billion US dollars. 4 billion transferred to the dark web directly into the two brothers’ account, making the money untraceable.
Amir and Reez Cajee are nowhere to be found. Maybe they are on a paradise island on the edge of a beach? Maybe in a European capital? Or still in Johannesburg? Investors then try to turn to South African justice. But she is now powerless. There is a legislative vacuum, no law regulates cryptocurrencies: they are not considered a financial product in South Africa.
No investigation can be launched. Money is lost, some investors see their lives shattered. Africrypt is the biggest bitcoin scam in history, according to the American media Bloomberg.