The Judiciary Police (PJ) arrested a local man Monday over a cryptocurrency investment scam, in which 71 locals have lost a total of 14.2 million patacas, PJ spokesman Leng Kam Lun said during a special press conference at the PJ headquarters Monday.
According to Leng, the suspect is a 34-year-old businessman surnamed Rosario.
Government-owned broadcaster TDM identified the suspect as Frederico dos Santos Rosario, citing the Judiciary Police.
Leng said that on August 1, the suspect and his wife went to a PJ station to report having been defrauded by two shareholders of a Hong Kong-based technology company through a cryptocurrency mining investment.
Under investigation, Leng said, the police discovered that Rosario and a Hong Kong man surnamed Lau – one of the two shareholders Rosario accused – held multiple e-sports and cryptocurrency mining investment seminars on the premises of a local group in Zape between January and June, persuading attendees to get involved in the investment. Leng noted that Rosario himself is also a shareholder who owns a 10 percent share of the company.
The Macau Post Daily said today that according to previous local media reports, the meetings were held at the headquarters of the Macau Civil Servants Association (ATFPM), of which Rosario’s mother, Rita Botelho dos Santos, is the president of the general assembly.
According to Leng, Rosario and Lau told attendees that they would use the invested money to purchase computers for the cryptocurrency mining business. They claimed that investors would receive the cryptocurrency soon and would receive a return of 45 percent every three months or 25 percent per month.
A total of 71 locals – aged between 22 and 63 – have invested 14.2 million patacas while Rosario and his wife acted as representatives and signed contracts on behalf of the 71 victims, according to Leng.
They each invested between 10,000 and 1.8 million patacas each.
In late June, as the victims didn’t receive any returns or get back their capital from the company, they asked Rosario about the matter. The suspect explained that Lau was involved in embezzlement.
“The suspect couldn’t reveal the details about the operation of the technology company, nor how the cryptocurrency mining investment works…and how it earns money, he [said he] didn’t know any of the above. However, he promised investors that they would receive a monthly return of 25 percent,” Leng said.
The suspect said he was unable to reveal the whereabouts of the 14.2 million patacas but claimed that he was also a victim, according to Leng. However, the Judiciary Police believe, Leng said, that Rosario knew that the “low risk, high return” investment wasn’t genuine, but nevertheless kept misleading victims into investing.
Monday, Rosario was ordered to go to a police station and was arrested and later transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP), facing aggravated fraud charges.
In cryptocurrency networks, mining – also known as cryptomining – is a validation of transactions. For this effort, successful miners obtain new cryptocurrency as a reward.
The reward decreases transaction fees by creating a complementary incentive to contribute to the processing power of the network.