People holding protest signs, demanding that a cryptocurrency company return the money they allege it stole from them—it sounds like an episode from the 2014 Mt. Gox exchange collapse, but this was the scene in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Sunday.
According to Reuters, dozens of people gathered outside the offices of Modern Tech JSC alleging “the largest ever cryptocurrency fraud involving 15 trillion dong,” which works out to more than $650 million USD. According to local news outlet Tuoi Tre News, the protesters allege that Modern Tech defrauded more than 30,000 investors by encouraging them to invest in digital tokens—called IFan and Pincoin—with the promise of regular payouts in real money.
According to the Vietnamese outlet, the scheme started to seem like a scam when the payouts started coming in tokens, not fiat. Now, Reuters reported, Modern Tech JSC and its alleged director have vanished without a trace. This has allegedly leaving thousands of investors without a return on their investments as promised after sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into the token sales promoted by the company.
The websites for Pincoin—which promises “up to” 40 percent profits every month for investors—and IFan are still live on the web. Motherboard reached out to Pincoin for comment, and we will update if we hear back. IFan’s website lists no contact details and links to Twitter and Facebook pages redirect to the home page.
In response to the alleged scam, according to Tui Tre News and Reuters, authorities in Ho Chi Minh City directed police to investigate the case and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a government directive asking the state bank and other agencies to tighten the “management of activities related to bitcoin and other cryptocurrency.”
If the protestors’ allegations are true, then Modern Tech JSC’s sneaky exit is just the latest sad installment in an increasingly long list of token sales that have either turned out to be scams or simply disappeared after taking people’s money.
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