Zimbabweans who invested more than US$5 million in a pyramid scheme have been left counting their losses after the owner of the scheme failed to give them back their investments, claiming his bitcoin account had been locked.
The Crypto Share Investment Scheme was formed by Martin Mhlanga, a Zimbabwean based in South Africa.
The victims claim they paid a US$30 joining fee and US$300 initial instalment that was given to the one who had successfully brought a new investor.
A South African-based Zimbabwean who spoke to NewsDay on condition that her name will not be made public said she almost committed suicide on Wednesday after failing to receive her promised US$95 000 first payout. She said:
I am a Zimbabwean who is based in South Africa, I was supposed to get my first payout of the amount I invested in July, then I will be getting that same amount every month, but now Mhlanga is nowhere to be found.
She said she sold her house for US$75 000 and took a loan of US$20 000 to make it US$95 000, hoping to double the amount.
The woman further claimed that Mhlanga kept coming up with different ideas like the anniversary where people invested at least US$1 000 and they were promised to get a profit of US$2 000 after a month.
One of the victims, Elina Tshuma, who invested US$10 000 in July said that she has not received her first payout. Tshuma said:
I took all the money that we had served with my husband and invested after I had convinced him that this might be our luck and he agreed, but now we are not even talking and if I don’t get that money back, that will be the end of my marriage.
Mhlanga has reportedly been postponing the payments dates since July, giving different excuses.
But on Wednesday, Mhlanga asked for more money, telling investors to pay 10% of the money that they had invested for him to be able to unlock his account and make all payments.