It appears some of those investors were a string of Christian churches in the South Pacific.
New evidence and details regarding the case surrounding One Coin have emerged, and it appears the leaders of the Ponzi scheme didn’t care who they targeted, so long as they got their money.
The two churches involved in the scheme include the Samoa Worship Center Christian Church and the Auckland branch of the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (SISDAC). Both are “holding out hope” that they can see their money again after the One Coin Ponzi scheme was touted by congregation leaders from both organizations.
Many followers and regulars at the churches were convinced to put their own money into the “get rich quick” scheme, resulting in hundreds of people that now bear lighter pockets and bruised pride.
Auckland-based lawyer Campbell Pentney explains:
In these communities, there is an enhanced sense of family and community bonds, and with that comes a very strong sense of trust. Of course, trust can be exploited by these scams.
Ed Moy, who directed the U.S. Mint between 2006 and 2011, explains:
If it seems too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. Cryptocurrency, in many ways, is just a much more efficient mechanism [for making transactions], but a scam is still a scam… The pitch of the scam was, ‘We developed this coin; it’s going to be worth a ton of money. Please invest.’ Cryptocurrencies themselves, in general, are not a bad thing, but if you’re creating it out of thin air and there’s nothing to it and it’s the front for a scam, it just makes it a much more efficient scam, and because the volume of dollars is so much greater for electronic and digital transactions, crooks go where the money is.
One Coin was originally created in 2014 by Ruja Ignatova and Sebastian Greenwood, now convicted criminals. The currency garnered nearly $4 billion in just two short years, marking one of the biggest gains for a cryptocurrency in the history of the space.
Prosecutors say that since its creation, the currency was designed to be a scam coin. Leaders of One Coin allegedly encouraged investments without “offering a way to transfer, sell or exchange funds,” or a “public blockchain by which it could be monitored.”
All Theft and No Returns
Manhattan U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman explains:
These defendants created a multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency company based completely on lies and deceit. They promised big returns and minimal risk, but, as alleged, this business was a pyramid scheme based on smoke and mirrors more than zeroes and ones.