South African Ponzi Scheme Forced to Pay Its Victims $291 Million

By Dawn Minaar

Senior Recovery Adviser and Director of South African Operations

Between the recent bitcoin sell off and the growing problem of illegal crypto schemes, there are many reasons to be concerned about cryptocurrency. However, positive stories about restoration of funds to victims inspire confidence. Victims of the South African crypto Ponzi scheme, Mirror Trading International, received $291 million in payouts, a welcome result for the would-be investors who despaired of seeing their funds again. 

The Rise and Fall of a Crypto Ponzi Scheme

Mirror Trading International investors all had one thing in common: They were eager to expand their savings and make some extra money trading bitcoin. Although there were numerous customer complaints, many investors were in the dark about the fact that MTI was a scam until the CEO, Johann Steynberg, disappeared with client funds. He was tracked down in Brazil in 2021 after showing a fake identity to law enforcement. 

Liquidators initially recovered 1,286 bitcoin stolen from customers through the Ponzi scheme, which promised rich rewards but, instead of providing a return on investment, absconded with client funds. The guarantee of 10% monthly was too attractive a deal for many investors to pass up. However, these promises were illusory – and like all Ponzi schemes, no actual trading took place. 

MTI received the dubious honor of being named the biggest crypto fraud in 2020 by Chainanalysis. When court proceedings began, the Ponzi schemes victims were concerned; the complicated nature of the case might have interfered with fund recovery. 

Since MTI was officially insolvent, the declaration that MTI was an illegal scheme might have resulted in the lion’s share of the funds going to creditors and the government rather than to fraud victims. In addition, the case involved sifting through thousands of claims to determine which among them were truly legitimate. 

Thankfully for MTI’s victims, the Ponzi scheme was ordered to pay back stolen funds to claimants. Eighteen suspects were forced to make these payments, in addition to settling with MTI creditors. This case is a satisfactory conclusion to one of the world’s largest illegal bitcoin trading schemes. 

If You’ve Lost Money to a Crypto Scheme

Stories like the retrieval of funds from MTI victims are becoming more common, which is welcome news, given the proliferation of crypto schemes. What should you do if you have lost money to a crypto fraud? 

The first step is to get experts involved. The MyChargeBack team combines thorough investigation with state-of-the art technology to detect patterns in bitcoin transactions and uncover cryptocurrency schemes. We consult with clients and gather information crucial to launching a successful investigation. 

We provide you with a crypto investigation report that you present to authorities and law enforcement to help them track down those responsible for the crypto scheme. We give you the tools to improve your chances of success combating crypto schemes. 

MyChargeBack Will Help You Find Your Funds on the Blockchain

If you have lost money to a cryptocurrency scheme, seek fund recovery assistance right away. Consult with MyChargeBack experts and get started with your fund recovery claim. We have extensive knowledge and working relationships with regulators and more than 450 law enforcement agencies around the world, as well as the solutions that can improve your prospects of getting your cryptocurrency back.