British businessman Renwick Haddow is in police custody after he was arrested and charged by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with a multimillion-dollar Bitcoin scam and an alleged Ponzi scheme.
The furtive scammer, who was living in New York at the time of the arrest, was reportedly running a fraudulent Bitcoin investment platform known as Bitcoin Store.
He was also alleged to be behind a similarly fraudulent workspace creation firm known as Bar Works. According to reports, Haddow diverted all of the investors’ funds into accounts situated in Morocco and Mauritius.
Following his arrest, the director of New York’s SEC office told The Guardian that Haddow secretly ran the two fake companies while keeping up elaborate smoke screens to trick investors into believing the firms were actually run by seasoned executives who would bring them to quick profits.
For a while, the approach was successful enough to allow the fraudster to steal $5 million. However, the red flags became prominent after 27 investors from China decided to pull out of Bar Works but failed to get any of their $3 million investment back.
The 27 investors proceeded to file a complaint after realizing they had fallen victim to a Ponzi scheme.
Meanwhile, the noose was tightening around Haddow’s neck after investigations by the SEC unearthed discrepancies within the Bitcoin Store accounts.
Touted to be a convenient and secure way to store and trade Bitcoin, Bitcoin Store had allegedly generated millions of dollars during the entire operation.
Authorities began to suspect foul play within the Bitcoin investment platform after they discovered that only $250,000 had made it into Bitcoin Store’s accounts in 2015, a figure that was much less than the total amount of investments put in.
Furthermore, none of the funds sent to the Bitcoin investment platform reflected the revenue earned from customers.
As the Bitcoin scam unraveled, more and more investors began to file complaints against Haddow, even more so after it was discovered by the SEC that Bar Works exclusively sold leases and subleases to old bars and restaurants instead of converting them into workspaces as Haddow had advertised.
Reports say that the company’s investors had pumped more than $37 million into the startup, none of which has been accounted for as of yet, according to the SEC.
Haddow’s Spotty History with U.K. Authorities
The SEC believes Haddow hid his connections to both fake firms as a way of staying under the radar of U.K. regulators. Apparently, Haddow had previously faced charges for fraud investment schemes he conducted in the U.K.
In addition to the lawsuit with Chinese investors from which he fraudulently stole over $3 million in funds, Haddow will also be answering to another suit recently filed by an investment group in Florida.
No Records Found in the Bitcoin Store
Despite their best efforts, the SEC failed to find any records that shed light on the operations of Bitcoin Store. Haddow had managed to bury any evidence that tied the Bitcoin investment platform to the millions of dollars in sales carried out to date.
Bitcoin Store was put out of operations by the SEC while the fraudulent firm Bar Works was also shut down. Investigations have so far revealed that Haddow was the sole operator of both companies and only used phantom executives as a means to get investors onboard.
Incidences such as these are unfortunately not isolated. Bitcoin Store has left in its wake several other fraud Bitcoin schemes that are consistently increasing in numbers.
Investors are advised to embrace caution and to be meticulous when making large investments in the future.
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