In an industry rife with scams, one cryptocurrency trading startup -- USI Tech -- was paying real dividends on its customers’ investments.Special InvestigationsTechnology
At least, it appeared to be.
In reality, USI Tech was a classic Ponzi scheme. It offered outrageous rates of return and encouraged investors to boost their earnings by introducing more people to the USI Tech family, with the fees from new investors then used to pay off existing customers.
It wasn’t long before authorities in the United States, Canada and New Zealand caught up with the company and issued cease and desist orders. Just a few months later, an estimated tens of millions of dollars had vanished from investors’ accounts.
But that wasn’t the end of USI Tech’s story. The model soon reappeared with a new name: Eyeline Trading. The former USI Tech website was redirected to Eyeline, but when authorities caught on to the seemingly rehashed scam, Eyeline rebranded to its current form: WealthBoss.
We spoke with six victims of USI Tech who have collectively lost thousands. One man, a security guard from Tel Aviv, who didn’t want to be named, said he lost more than $147,000 to scammers behind USI Tech and Eyeline. He earns about $8.50 an hour, so a loss of that scale is irretrievable. Being duped also had an impact on his confidence and mental health. "I lost all my life; I can’t recover from this," he said, "I don’t have any kind of a future."