A cryptocurrency trading app called iEarn Bot may have defrauded thousands of people, resulting in what experts believe could be one of the largest crypto scams to date. Trading in cryptocurrencies has become popular, with people often promising large rewards over short periods. The bots, like the one Roxana from Romania, invested in, promised high returns managed by the company’s AI program. The portfolio became zero, and Roxana was never credited with any money.
Many high-profile figures, including government officials and academics, were persuaded to invest via the app. Gabriel Garais, a leading IT expert in Romania, sponsored the app, but he too lost his savings invested in the app.
When Silvia Tabusca, a Romanian organised crime expert from the European Center for Legal Education and Research, began looking into iEarn Bot, she discovered that many people in other countries had also lost their money in the scheme. From what they had seen, the number of investors was quite high, she noted. When they had enough investors and enough money invested in a specific country, they did not allow that country to withdraw any more, and they opened other countries.
iEarn Bot presented itself as a US-based company with excellent credentials, but the BBC discovered that the man whom the site names as the company’s founder had never heard of them. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, alongside companies such as Huawei and Qualcomm, were all named as “strategic partners” of iEarn Bot, but they too said they have no knowledge of the company and are not working with it. The company places a big emphasis on pushing investors to recruit more people to join the app.
In some countries, local leaders were pushed by iEarn Bot mentors – with whom they only ever communicated on Telegram – to organise recruiting events. People in Colombia and Nigeria were actively recruited to join the app. Withdrawals in Colombia were stopped in December, and people were told the company was transforming investment in USDT – a well-established cryptocurrency – into a new coin called iBot, which had the same value.
Investors were asked to be patient until March, but people are still waiting to access their money. The BBC identified one main crypto wallet that received payments from about 13,000 potential victims, for a profit of almost $1.3m in less than one year. But they could not track down where and to whom the money went.