Thousands of people could have lost all their savings after investing in a cryptocurrency trading app called iEarn Bot, the BBC reports .
According to this medium, experts who have investigated the company say that it could be one of the biggest crypto scandals to date worldwide.
Cryptocurrency trading has become very popular, with promises of big rewards in short periods. But law enforcement agencies are warning of a growing number of scams and advising investors to carry out “due diligence.”
The BBC tells the case of Roxana (not her real name), a Romanian who lost hundreds of euros when she invested in iEarn Bot. Clients who bought the bots, like Roxana, were told their investment would be handled by the company’s artificial intelligence program, guaranteeing high returns.
“I invested in a bot for a month,” Roxana tells the BBC. “You could see in the app how many dollars the app was generating – there were graphs showing how the investment was progressing ,” she said.
“It seemed pretty professional until, at some point, they announced (a shutdown for) maintenance,” he adds. At that time, for some time, the withdrawals of the application were frozen .
“I made the withdrawal request and the money just disappeared . The wallet became zero, but no money was ever credited to my wallet,” says this scam victim.
In Romania, dozens of high-profile figures, including government officials and academics, were persuaded to invest through the app because it was sponsored by Gabriel Garais, a leading technology expert in the country.
Garais says he too was tricked into investing his own savings in the app and lost his money . But Roxana insists that if it hadn’t been for Garais’ sponsorship, she would never have considered investing in cryptocurrency.
“We had the knowledge to think this might be a scam,” he says, “but the fact that there was a reputable person between us and the company meant we didn’t look into things too much, we didn’t hesitate too much,” he says . .
But there are no affected only in Romania. When Silvia Tabusca, a Romanian organized crime expert at the European Center for Legal Education and Research, began investigating the iEarn Bot, she discovered that many people in other countries had also lost their money to the same program.
“From what we have seen, the number of investors is quite high,” he says. “In Indonesia, for example, they (iEarn Bot) claim they had 800,000 customers ,” says Tabusca.
“At first, the app works very well,” says Tabusca. “When they have enough investors and enough money invested in a specific country, they don’t allow that country to withdraw any more, and they open up in other countries ,” he adds.
iEarn Bot bills itself as a US-based company with excellent credentials, but the BBC found some suspicious circumstances. The man whom the site names as the company’s founder told the network that he had never heard of them and that he has made a complaint to the police.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), along with companies such as Huawei and Qualcomm, are named as “strategic partners” of iEarn Bot, but spokespersons for them also said they are unaware of the company and are not working with it. .
On the website, the company does not provide any contact information and after reviewing the history of its Facebook page, the BBC says that until the end of 2021, the account advertised weight-loss products. It is managed from Vietnam and Cambodia.
“One of the challenges is identifying and attributing who the wrongdoer is, where the value is going and then being able to take investigative steps and police action,” John Wyman , head of the FBI’s new Virtual Assets Unit, told the BBC.
Such investigations require international cooperation and may take longer, but he insists those responsible are eventually brought to justice.
The FBI created the Virtual Assets Unit last year to respond to the growing number of crimes using virtual currencies. From this office they remember that the best way to fight against scammers is still prevention.
“Knowledge, and doing a bit of due diligence before investing, is critical,” says John Wyman. “It’s like everything else: if it sounds too good to be true, it often is ,” he concludes.