FIU sounds warning on illegal cryptocurrency, pyramid trade

Fiji’s Intelligence Unit today warned against unregulated cryptocurrency trading and illegal pyramid selling schemes after three incidents were reported involving transactions worth close to $200,000, snaring possibly more than 150 unsuspecting victims.

FIU Director Razim Buksh said such dealings are considered an offence under section 87A of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) Act 2010 and need to be properly scrutinised.

In most cases, he says potential victims or investors are not fully aware of what they are investing in and promoting to others. 

Unregulated Trading of Bitcoins

In one of two bitcoin cases, Buksh said interested investors were provided with the entity’s bank account details and instructed to note the first and last four alphabets/numbers of their bitcoin wallets as the transactions narration when depositing funds for their acquisition of bitcoins.

“Another entity was reported for possible unregulated trading of cryptocurrencies following an attempted remittance transaction for the acquisition of digital goods in Australia. It was established that over 20 suspicious deposits totalling approximately $8,3000 were made into the reported entity’s bank account within two months.”

Illegal Pyramid Selling Schemes

The owner of the second reported entity was also brought to the attention of the FIU for promoting a potential multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme, a type of pyramid selling scheme.

The scheme, Buksh says are designed to appear as a business model that provide educational programmes on financial trading, market analysis, etc, and customers pay a monthly subscription fee of $99. Subscribers receive commission when they get other individuals to subscribe as well.

“Another illegal pyramid selling scheme was reported, which promised easy and high returns for subscriptions as low as $2. This scheme operates similarly to the above-mentioned scheme. In January 2021, the FIU identified more than 150 potential victims of the scheme who conducted over 300 deposits totalling approximately $9000 into one active subscriber’s local mobile money wallet. It was also established that the active subscriber received two suspicious cash deposit of $10,000 each in 2019 and 2020, and reached suspicious remittances over $80,000 from 2018 to 2021 into her bank account.”

These cases have been referred to authorities.

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