Chinese authorities charge six over PlusToken scheme

These six individuals are suspected to have played a role in organising and leading the pyramid scheme

Image of police officers roaming Shenzhen, China
The PlusToken scheme generated $5.8 billion in cryptocurrency

Out of the 109 individuals that have recently been arrested by Chinese authorities as a part of the $5.8 billion crypto Ponzi PlusToken case, six have already been charged.

On September 7, prosecutors charged the defendants Chen Shaofeng, Luu Jianghua, Lu Jianghua, Lu Qinghai, Jin Xinghai, Wang Yin, and Zhang Qin in Xiangshui County and Yancheng City. The authorities have stated that these individuals are their main suspects in “organising and leading criminal pyramid schemes”.

The arrest of the 109 individuals who were suspected to be involved in the scheme occurred in late July. This follows 27 persons who are believed to be the executives behind the scam and 82 “key” promoters.

The individual who is alleged to be the ringleader of the scheme was also arrested last May, while an additional six suspects were extradited to China from Vanuatu in July 2019.

In February 2018, Plustoken published its whitepaper. It claimed to be a South Korean crypto exchange offering interest-bearing accounts, and that it would be generating returns between 10% to 30% every month through its native token, the “PLUS”.

By May 30, PlusToken had gathered 3 million registered users. The company later claimed it was expected to onboard 10 million new members before the end of 2019. At this point, some began suspecting that the company was making false claims. They reasoned that a user base of millions would have translated to a high adoption rate, but the PlusToken had yet to be picked up by any major or minor crypto exchanges.

This scam managed to rake in more than 200,000 Bitcoins (BTC), 789,000 Ether (ETH), and 26 million Eos (EOS) — worth over $3 billion in crypto deposits from its investors. Shortly after, the company pulled an exit scam, leaving their investors hanging.

For some time after the incident, the firm kept their website and social media handles online, claiming that the absence of operations were due to some technical issues.

Users reported that withdrawals on PlusToken started faltering on June 27 of last year. The lack of specifics surrounding the high-yield investment crypto project added fuel to the fire, and the Chinese police became involved when PlusToken users discovered that they could no longer access their funds in the same month.

Since the arrests, there have been no major movements of PlusToken funds; the last known transfers from PlusToken wallets occurred in late June.

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