Brazilian professional soccer players — Gustavo Scarpa, Mike Rocha de Oliveira, and Willian Bigod — have reportedly lost more than $5 million due to investments in an allegedly fraudulent cryptocurrency company called Xland.
The company said it does not operate a pyramid scheme and promised to compensate victims.
Athletes fell victim
It was assumed that Scarpa – a Brazilian footballer who plays for Premier League club Nottingham Forest – and Mike Rocha de Oliveira (better known as Mike) – who competes for Brazilian club Palmeiras in Serie A urge To join Xland as an investor by Willian Bigode.
The platform promised returns of up to 5% per month, but it seems to have drained players’ investments. Scarpa was paid 6.3 million reais (about $1.2 million), while Mikey parted ways with 4 million reais (about $757,000). Both players filed a police complaint several months ago. Scarpa recently commented:
“I have always seen stupid people fall victim to pyramid schemes and scams. To end up in such a situation is terrible.”
Bigod – a former teammate of the Brazilian champions Palmeiras victims – denied ever convincing the players to invest in Xland. He said he was also the victim of a supposed scam and lost 17.5 million riyals (more than 3.3 million USD):
“I’m not a fraud, I didn’t take anyone’s money. I’m also a victim, because I haven’t got my own money back to this day.”
Vinicius Salva – the lead investigator on the case – said there was “strong evidence” that Xland operated as a pyramid scheme. On the other hand, the company dismissed the allegations, saying that the investor losses were due to the demise of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX in November 2022. Xland also promised to get the footballers’ money back.
Some of the biggest cryptocurrency scams in Brazil
The largest country by land mass in South America has become a breeding ground for cryptocurrency systems in recent years.
Local authorities Arrested Claudio Oliveira, also known as the “Bitcoin King”, 2021, is suspected of having withdrawn 7,000 BTC from clients of his Bitcoin Banco Group. Investigators alleged that he moved the stolen assets into his personal wallet. Upon his arrest, the police confiscated Oliveira’s hard wallets, along with luxury cars and a huge amount of cash.
Brazilian law enforcement agencies conducted a similar operation last year, Serving The activities of a criminal organization led by businessman Francisco Valdivino da Silva, known as the “Bitcoin Sheik”. According to the allegations, the gang members lured people to join their crypto platform, promising them up to 20% return on their investment.
Dubbed Operation Pouya, the investigation estimated that the perpetrators stole a large amount of money from the victims over the years and laundered $766 million worth of cryptocurrency.
Featured image provided by Nottingham Post
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