What appears to be the biggest cryptocurrency heist in history has taken place after two South African brothers vanished with $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin taken from their crypto investment company.
Bloomberg reports that Ameer Cajee and his brother Raees set up Africrypt in 2019 and it provided significant returns for investors. But in April, when Bitcoin hit its peak, Cajee, who was working as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, informed clients that Africrypt had been hacked. He also asked investors not to contact law enforcement as this would slow the recovery process, which raised suspicions.
Even more suspicious was Africrypt employees losing access to its back-end platforms a week before the alleged hack took place. Investors hired Hanekom Attorneys to investigate the matter and found that the company’s pooled funds were transferred from its South African accounts and client wallets to Bitcoin wallets and tumblers, or other large pools of Bitcoins, making them untraceable.
The law firm has been unable to locate the brothers, who are believed to have fled the country days before the “hack.” The incident has been reported to Hawks, an elite unit of the South African police force that deals with organized crime.
South Africa’s Finance Sector Conduct Authority is also looking into Africrypt, though it cannot launch a formal investigation because crypto assets are not legally considered financial products. Global crypto exchanges have also been informed in case any attempts are made to convert the Bitcoins.
Last year saw the now-defunct South African Bitcoin trader, Mirror Trading International, scam 23,000 Bitcoins, the equivalent to $1.2 billion, from investors.