The potential profitability to be achieved and the risk assumed are related. There is no investment in equities (whether shares, ETFs, funds) or cryptocurrencies without risk. By definition, these investments do not have an assured return, but depend on the performance of the companies, indices or cryptocurrencies in which they invest.
Those responsible for many of the scams we are going to see below operate outside Spain, contacting potential investors in our country and offering them additional retribution for attracting more investors. These companies buy databases of individuals and call potential clients from a call center to convince them to invest in the company, promising unreal returns with no or very low risk.
2. Types of crime
There are many different types of bitcoin scams, among which we can highlight:
- ICO’s (Initial Coin Offering).
Not all ICO’s are frauds. In fact, most of them have not been. Originally, each launch of a new cryptocurrency responded to the need to finance a new project. Its founders created a new cryptocurrency to raise capital to develop their project.
However, in Spain and in Europe some of these new cryptocurrencies have turned out to be scams in which the founders have appropriated the money of bona fide investors. The job of your criminal lawyer will be to gather all the evidence of the scam and present it to the Court.
2. Pyramid Scheme
Also known as Ponzi scheme. It is a type of scam that has been widely repeated for decades. A company or a trader offers high returns to its clients. As long as new investors believe in the offer and participate in this supposed investment, the scam is not discovered since the profits to be paid are covered by the new capital inflows coming from the new participants.
Once the inflow of new contributions slows down, it is impossible to continue paying the initially agreed profitability and the scheme collapses with a domino effect. Normally the fraudsters use dissuasive techniques with the clients so that they do not file a complaint or lawsuit. They use all kinds of excuses to avoid paying interest and returning the invested capital. In Spain there have been many examples of this type of scams, one of the best known was Finanzas Forex.
3. Financial Chiringuitos
Other companies have web pages with the appearance of being legal brokers. On many occasions they hire celebrities to promote their services and develop a strategy to generate trust in social networks such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
The Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) is a public body that periodically publishes the list of companies authorized to manage investment funds and authorized brokers that comply with the regulations in force. In the same way, they publish alerts about financial chiringuitos without authorization to operate that may be frauds. Most foreign investors are unaware of this tool, so it will be important to have a lawyer specialized in frauds and scams to check for this warning.
Some companies offer the possibility of installing a remote access on the investor’s computer to help him become familiar with the web and the investment operations, accompanying him in his beginnings.
5. Mobile Apps
Sometimes, scams are carried out by means of mobile applications, which are used by the fraudsters to access the device and subsequently the user’s banking passwords.
- Fake cryptocurrencies
There are thousands of cryptocurrencies. The website www.coinmarketcap.com is a reliable source of information in the sector. It shows the quotation of each one of them in relation to the US dollar and its weekly, monthly and annual evolution. It is a good source of contrasted information.
3. What legal actions to take?
Unfortunately, there have been many cases of individuals and companies that have raised funds for fictitious coins that were never created, as happened with OneCoin. Investors initially lost their entire investment.
In all these cases, it is essential to have specialized advice from a criminal lawyer and to initiate legal action as quickly as possible to request precautionary measures from the competent Judge and to obtain the bringing to court of those responsible and the seizure of the fraudsters’ bank accounts.
The Olimpa Abogados team has intervened in dozens of proceedings in Spain requesting essential precautionary measures such as:
– Intervention of the bank accounts where the funds have been transferred to block them and seize the balances.
– Official letters to the Bank of Spain to inform of the bank accounts opened in the name of the responsible parties, in order to block the existing amounts.
– Official letter to the Property Registry to record a prohibition to dispose of any property owned by the companies and the responsible parties.
– Notices to the Mercantile Registry of the locality in which the company/s responsible is/are registered so that they inform of the corporate links.
– Closure of the web page or other instruments from which the responsible parties operate.
– Notices to the AEAT (Tax Authorities) and others that may be deemed appropriate.
These scams can occur in any of the most common cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, XRP, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano; but also in less common cryptocurrencies such as Loopring, Theta or Nem.
If the company you have invested with refuses to return the amounts you have invested, gives you evasive answers or even stops responding to your emails and calls, it is very likely that you have been the victim of a scam. To find out how to recover your money, contact our team of specialized lawyers.
Olimpa Abogados’ team is currently working on some of the most important cases of pyramid schemes in Spain. Do not hesitate to send us your questions and we will advise you on what legal action to take.