US Watchdog Charges South African Bitcoin Club With $1.7B Fraud

Zinger Key Points
  • MTI accepted 29,421 BTC worth $1.7 billion from 23,000 Americans.
  • The CFTC complaint said fraudulent activities occurred between May 18, 2018, and March 30, 2021.

The U.S. commodities watchdog, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has charged South Africa-based Bitcoin BTC/USD operator Mirror Trading International (MTI) and Cornelius Johannes Steynberg for $1.7 billion of fraud and registration violations.

According to CFTC, MTI accepted 29,421 BTC worth $1.7 billion from 23,000 Americans for a commodity pool scheme that it wasn't licensed to run. CFTC said this is the largest ever fraud scheme case involving Bitcoin. 

The charging document said that the scheme's victims were made to believe they were investing their Bitcoin in a high-tech investment club "to grow your Bitcoin." 

Also Read: Here's How People Lost Close To $1B Worth Of Crypto To Scammers
The CFTC complaint said fraudulent activities occurred between May 18, 2018, and March 30, 2021. During that time, Steynberg's MTI was running a multi-level marketing scheme. He used social media platforms and various websites to convince people to transfer their Bitcoin into a global foreign currency commodity pool.

However, the regulator said Steynberg failed to disclose the income adequately, lied about the existence of a "trading bot," never made a good forex swap, and provided clients with phony account statements. 

According to the CFTC, Steynberg himself is an international fugitive. His residence is in South Africa, but he has been detained in Brazil on an Interpol warrant.

Posted In: Bitcoin clubBTCCaseCFTCfraudMarketSouth AfricaCryptocurrencyNewsTop StoriesMarkets

Ad Disclosure: The rate information is obtained by Bankrate from the listed institutions. Bankrate cannot guaranty the accuracy or availability of any rates shown above. Institutions may have different rates on their own websites than those posted on The listings that appear on this page are from companies from which this website receives compensation, which may impact how, where, and in what order products appear. This table does not include all companies or all available products.

All rates are subject to change without notice and may vary depending on location. These quotes are from banks, thrifts, and credit unions, some of whom have paid for a link to their own Web site where you can find additional information. Those with a paid link are our Advertisers. Those without a paid link are listings we obtain to improve the consumer shopping experience and are not Advertisers. To receive the rate from an Advertiser, please identify yourself as a Bankrate customer. Bank and thrift deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Credit union deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Consumer Satisfaction: Bankrate attempts to verify the accuracy and availability of its Advertisers' terms through its quality assurance process and requires Advertisers to agree to our Terms and Conditions and to adhere to our Quality Control Program. If you believe that you have received an inaccurate quote or are otherwise not satisfied with the services provided to you by the institution you choose, please click here.

Rate collection and criteria: Click here for more information on rate collection and criteria.