The New Zealand Samoan community fell victim of a billion-dollar global cryptocurrency scheme that was labelled as a scam. That scheme was brought into the limelight by three individuals purporting to have lost tens of thousands of dollars.
The new development comes in the midst of Samoan Authorities’ investigations targeting two churches with bases in Australia and New Zealand. The church supposedly used OneCoin to pump millions of dollars into Samoa. The Samoan community has already put a strict ban on cryptocurrency transactions.
Samoa’s Central Bank confirmed earlier that hundreds of Samoans were caught up in the scheme. A New Zealand police report stated that the authorities were exploring viable actions against OneCoin. Also, businesses and individuals that invested in the scheme will not be spared.
How it Happened
The OneCoin representatives used the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (SISDAC) and the Samoa Worship Center in New Zealand. They also used the large Samoan population in Auckland to target a wide network of unsuspecting investor victims. SISDAC denied any knowledge of participating in illegal activities on May 2, 2019.
The church also denied ever taking part in money laundering. It took issues with the Central Bank’s summary detailing the New Zealand police report. A Samoa Worship Centre employee spoke to RNZ Pacific explaining that the church denies all allegations. Furthermore, the church’s legal team is exploring ways of taking legal action against the Samoan government citing defamation.
Analysts and experts think that the company exploited the extensive trust bestowed upon elders in the Pacific communities. Moreover, the company used places of worship to target the general public. Speaking to RNZ Pacific, three Auckland women said that they had collectively invested at least $NZ 28,000 into OneCoin. Later on, they discovered that it was just another scam.
The women requested anonymity since they were either ashamed that they were easily scammed or they were still trying to claim their money back. The victims thought that the investment presented a safe and stable financial future for their families. However, when OneCoin turned out to be a scam, they do not believe anything anymore.
Another woman, together with other members of her family, had invested over $NZ 8,000. She estimated that about 100 members of her local church in Auckland had invested in OneCoin.
The Company under Siege
The Belgium-based company advertises itself as an educational resource. Moreover, it states that its OneCoin digital token is on the brink of a successful public launch. So far, the company has not responded to these allegations levelled against it. In Auckland, the company allegedly used an Auckland businesswoman, Sina Hunt, to spearhead its pitch to Samoan communities.
The victims claimed that Ms. Hunt was the primary contact between them and OneCoin. They said that the businesswoman keeps evading their attempts to secure refunds. One woman who pumped $NZ 2,400 in OneCoin said that Ms. Hunt had duped her into believing that the return on investment would enable her acquire a decent house in Auckland’s strained market.
So far Ms. Hunt has declined to comment on the matter even during a brief phone call on May 2, 2019. She went ahead to permanently disconnect the phone number. Information from her Facebook page reveals that she had posted that she is self-employed working with the ‘OneDreamTeam NZ.’ That team is a local group of independent marketing associates with OneLife, a known affiliate of OneCoin.
Online records of the OneCoin events in Australia point to Ms. Hunt as a speaker. She is on record giving an interview to the digital token’s official magazine some time in 2018. The businesswoman is also the sole shareholder in Oceania Food & Catering. Her firm is an Auckland business that sells Samoan food and it advertises itself as accepting the now estranged OneCoin crypto.
In 2018, in a since expired listing, the company advertised a ‘too good’ deal on the Deal Shaker website. They advertised for a “100 PERCENT ONECOIN DISCOUNT VOUCHER”. An RNZ Pacific reported visited Oceania Food & Catering on Thursday. During that visit, the reported saw two signs at the front stating that the business accepted payments in OneCoins.
The staff member on duty said that she was unaware of the scheme. She referred any further enquiries to Ms. Hunt. New Zealand’s New Financial Markets Authority said last Friday that it had no authority to pursue the overseas crypto company. The Authority had warned in December that OneCoin was a potential scam.