Samoan Central Bank Suspects Local Church of Running Crypto Ponzi Scheme
A report by RNZ published April 26, 2019, states that a Samoan church has been implicated in a global multi-billion cryptocurrency fraud scheme.
Crypto Scam Knocks the Doors of Churches
The tentacles of crypto-based crimes now seem to have gripped religious institutions as highlighted by a recent development in the Oceania.
On April 25, 2019, Samoa’s Central Bank named the Samoa Worship Centre as one of two churches which may be involved in a large cryptocurrency scam. The country’s apex bank stated that the church might have been used as an investment vehicle for the banned cryptocurrency called OneCoin. Notably, in May 2018, the island nation imposed a ban on all transactions pertaining to OneCoin due to security concerns.
The Central Bank said that OneCoin managed to get around this ban by moving at least $2.3 million via New Zealand-based Samoan churches.
Fono Toluono, an IT engineer working with the Samoa Worship Centre told RNZ that recently representatives from OneCoin had approached church personnel and pitched their crypto product to the congregation. They were able to convince several people – including ministers – to make investments in the said product.
Toluono said that he was happy with his investment of approximately $1,100 in OneCoin’s product. He added:
“A lot of people in Samoa invested in it, not just the church members. Everybody in the public.”
Interestingly enough, on April 25, 2019, the Samoan Central Bank made a statement saying that multiple people were “currently under scrutiny and potential investigation.”
According to the Central Bank, the information on OneCoin’s suspected illegal activities was based on intel it had received from the New Zealand police.
Under Samoan law, money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $374,000 or a combination of both.
OneCoin Continues to Run Wild
Founded in 2014, OneCoin is a Bulgaria-based cryptocurrency firm that claims to have more than a million registered members. However, the sham was quickly foiled when it came to light that it is nothing more than a polished Ponzi pyramid scheme.
Throughout its existence, OneCoin has found itself on the wrong end of law multiple times.
BTCManager reported on April 10, 2019, how Singaporean police nabbed two men in connection with OneCoin. These men were reportedly scheming to defraud investors in Singapore by promising them exorbitant monetary returns in exchange for their investment in the company.
Another instance came to light in June 2018 when Chinese authorities arrested close to 100 people with links to OneCoin.