Johann Steynberg was arrested in Brazil recently. He is a South African who ran the Ponzi scam Mirror Trading International (MTI) that cost millions of dollars.
This would be another major arrest in the country. Claudio Oliveira, a member of the Bitcoin Banco Group, was also arrested for the disappearance in 2019 of 7,000 Bitcoin.
Brazil scores another point against crypto scams
Johann Steynberg was able to deceive thousands of people around the globe by creating a Ponzi scheme promising up to 10% returns. Steynberg’s firm stole more than 29,000 bitcoins, according to preliminary estimates.
Johann Steynberg was detained in Goiania (the capital of the Brazilian state Goias). According to a press release by the Goias government, the arrest was made in coordination between local forces and the Brazilian Federal Police as well as Interpol.
According to Brazilian law enforcement, Johann Steynberg was reportedly in Brazil after fleeing South Africa in 2020 in response to the collapse of Mirror Trading International.
Raimundo Colho Pinto Junior (Commander of the Group of Rapid Interventions) stated that the intelligence work took about one month. The police were able to locate Johann Steynberg by seizing several false identities, electronic equipment and notes with useful information.
“Our police officers started to search for the suspect. After a prolonged work period of about a month, it was possible identify the subject and approach him…. Interpol [unit located in Brasilia] and the Federal Police were already aware that our investigation. We made contact and the subject was brought to the Superintendence PF for execution of the international warrant for arrest and prosecution for the crime.
The criminal was arrested and placed in preliminary detention on charges of using fake documentation.
How the Ponzi Scheme Works
Mirror Trading International (MTI), a marketing platform for investment, claimed that it promised high returns if users invested more money.
In South Africa, the platform was launched in 2019. It promised guaranteed returns of 10% per month. It boasted over 1 billion assets and 170,000 customers worldwide at its peak.
After customers reported that MTI had blocked balances, authorities opened an investigation. Johann Steynberg was reported missing shortly thereafter, prompting an Interpol alert.
Steynberg was arrested by Interpol and Brazilian Authorities on New Year’s Eve.
Marla Brooks – Financial Analysis
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