Authorities in central Japan have detained four persons accused of defrauding $54 million. The individuals allegedly attracted investors by offering extremely high profits and claimed to be using artificial intelligence to maximize earnings, according to authorities.
The four individuals were the administrators of the Oz Project, a bitcoin investment platform, as per Japanese media. It guaranteed too-good-to-be-true profits, just like every other fraud. According to the Japanese publication Asahi Shimbun, Oz Project promised consumers that they would receive 100 percent of their initial payment and 2.5 profits on their deposit in four months.
Takuya Hashiyada, Masamichi Toshima, Shoji Ishida, and Yukihiro Yamashita (aged 46 to 61) are the suspects, according to authorities in Aichi Prefecture. At least JPY6 billion (US$54.5 million) is said to have been provided to the four. Authorities claim they were successful in attracting over 20,000 investors.
According to authorities, the four held seminars around Japan in order to entice investors. Those who were scammed were encouraged to join an investment group on LINE, a famous Japanese messaging network. By adding new victims, usually friends and family, to the group, the investors were able to expand the fraud even further.
While the accused conspirators are just now being apprehended, the fraud has been happening for years, according to the publication. Some of the Oz Project’s angry investors brought criminal charges against the company in 2019. The cops have allegedly been looking for the operators since then.
The scheme is just one of the fake companies pretending to be real cryptocurrency investment platforms. According to a study released by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans have lost upwards of $80 million as a result of such frauds since October 2020. This is a 1,000 percent increase since the autumn of 2019. At this time, the average loss per victim was $1,900.