Many investors have fallen prey to several high yield investment programs (HYIP), multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes, and Ponzi schemes organised by high-profile African CEOs who eventually disappeared with their money.
Some of these CEOs checked all of the boxes that make a business look viable. The high success rate suggests that they refine their strategies so that even the most intellectual people are caught in their web.
Between 2015 and 2021, Nigerian investors lost over N300 billion to investment schemes and speculative trading.
Also, in 2020, South African investors, according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), lost more than R1.5 billion in banking and card fraud.
Despite efforts by financial bodies to mitigate the phoney investment schemes, the scam rate on the continent continues to increase.
Here are some African CEOs who have disappeared with people’s money.
CEOs of Africrypt – Raees Cajee and Ameer Cajee
In the late second quarter of 2019, two brothers, Raees Cajee and Ameer Cajee, founded a Cape Town-based cryptocurrency investment platform, Africrypt.
In 2021, the duo vanished with $3.6 billion worth of people’s bitcoin.
The first red light was when the chief operating officer (COO), Ameer Cajee, informed clients of a hack and begged that it not be disclosed to police since it would hold down the recovery of lost assets.
Because of the disturbing information, some of the investors contacted Hanekom Attorneys to investigate it.
Hanekom Attorneys said, “We were sceptical right away since the release urged investors not to sue. Seven days before the alleged hack, Africrypt staff lost access to the back-end systems”.
During this period, the brothers vanished without a trace, and their location is still unknown.
Hanekom Attorneys revealed that the duos transferred money from its South African accounts and customer wallets and routed it via bitcoin tumblers and mixers to make them undetectable.
Tasneem Moosa, Founder and Managing Director at Hello Darlings
Tasneem Moosa, alias “Holiday Swindler”, used ‘Hello Darlings’ to sell vacation packages to exotic locations in overseas destinations. She does this through her Human Marketing Capital company.
However, her promise to her clients fell through, as she vanished after receiving about R100 million from them. She also deleted all of her social media profiles.
According to social media users, the brand was promoted by some social media influencers from Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg.
One of the victims said, “I have never booked with her, but Tasneem Moosa had been sending people (influencers) on trips and have them document it. She would then give discount codes to those who book through the influencers”.
After a long silence, Tasneem spoke up and said, “I do not have millions with me or in any accounts, and I haven’t vanished or made off with people’s money. The actual amount is R26 million, not the R100 million reported. R7-10 million has been repaid.” She, however, did not explain how the rest of the money would be repaid and did not disclose her whereabouts.
Mirror Trading International (MTI) CEO, Johann Steynberg
Steynberg vanished with about $1.2 billion. He was believed to have relocated to Brazil after preventing key personnel from accessing the company’s local bank account.
Investigations by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), South Africa’s financial services regulator, revealed losses that were not previously disclosed. There were also bitcoins that could not be accounted for by MTI. The inquiry revealed that MTI’s broker, Trade 300, was Steynberg’s proxy identity.
Before he disappeared, the management team said the CEO told them that when the FSCA removed all of the electronic equipment, a security protocol was put in place with the broker.
This, according to him, was to prevent the member bitcoin from being stolen. This included a withdrawal restriction.
Before departing the country, he left his wife in charge of his affairs. Two weeks after he left, he stopped communicating with MTI management.
Since the event, the MTI team have been trying to retrieve investors’ BTC, but it is not accessible so far.