South Africa has been in the news for all the wrong reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Missing COVID-19 relief funds, unacceptably high youth unemployment, the ongoing commission of inquiry into state capture, the apparently missing and fake news about decuplets, and a vaccine roll-out that is happening at snail’s pace. Equally, Bitcoin has also been in the news for most of the first half of 2021 due to its volatile price which sometimes swings based on what mood Elon Musk woke up in.
Now, you take South Africa and mix it with Bitcoin and you have possibly the world’s largest ever Bitcoin Heist.
Ameer Cajee (20 years old) and Raees Cajee (17 years old), the two South African brothers who founded crypto investment company and exchange, AfriCrypt, have apparently made a run and disappeared with 69,000 Bitcoins belonging to their customers. That is calculated to be approximately $3,6 billion. Added to this, they are said to have also cleared all pooled investor (customers) funds from the FNB account they were held in.
Reports are that they ran off to the United Kingdom and have disappeared since then without any trace.
Things became suspicious at AfriCrypt during April 2021 when one of the brothers e-mailed customers claiming that the company’s systems and platform had been hacked. As a result, he further stated that they decided to shut down the platform and freeze customer accounts as a result of the hack. What made matters suspicious is that in the e-mail he asked customers not to report this to police and authorities because it would apparently delay the recovery process.
Since then, the AfriCrypt website has not been operational. The brothers have also not been answering any e-mails or calls as some of their prominent customers that include South African celebrities have recruited an attorneys firm to investigate and have their funds returned.
There is also suspicion that AfriCrypt was part of an international money laundering operation given also that customers were required to sign an investment agreement with RaeCreateWealth Limited, a company based in Hong Kong. This agreement limited the liability of the company for any kind of loss and also exonerates it from any hacks, something that would need to be tested in a court.
As things stand, Hanekom Attorneys, the law firm hired by some of AfriCrypt clients, has stated that the funds are now virtually untraceable as they were put through various tumblers and mixers.
This Bitcoin heist highlights some issues, chief among them being that without much regulation and given its decentralized nature, people using Bitcoin have very little recourse unless a crime is involved. Also, this is yet another dent into Bitcoin's reputation in South Africa as the currency continues to be at the center of high profile scams.
💰 The founders of AfriCrypt, a South African cryptocurrency investment company and exchange, have apparently disappeared and took with them 69,000 Bitcoins that are worth an estimated $3.6 billion. These Bitcoins belong to customers of AfriCrypt which has an office in Johannesburg. AfriCrypt was founded and run by two South African brothers, Ameer Cajee (20 years old) and Raees Cajee (17 years old). A few eyebrows were raised as customers received an e-mail mid-April 2021 stating that the platform had been hacked and all accounts will be frozen and systems shutdown. Not so long after that, the Cajee brothers transferred all customer funds and apparently disappeared to the UK. Link
⚖️ The Information Regulator (South Africa) really needs to get their act together. Eight days before the full commencement of the Protection of Personal Information Act, the Information Regulator kicked the can down the road even further citing technical glitches in its IT systems that resulted in the suspension of the portal registrations. Last year, approximately exactly a year ago, the Regulator set a deadline of 1 July 2021 for the full implementation of POPIA, a deadline which the Regulator itself will be failing to meet. Not only that, POPIA has been signed as an Act since 2013, giving government plenty of time to get everything ready. Link
🔒 With the imminent implementation of South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), we sat in conversation with Andrew Bourne, regional manager for Africa at Zoho, to understand the awareness and readiness of South African companies regarding the Protection of Personal Information Act. To understand the awareness and readiness of South African companies, Zoho together with South African business and technology research company, WorldWideWorkx, released a new study that surveyed 448 businesses on benefits associated with adhering to privacy laws and how organizations can accrue greater benefits with an increased focus on privacy. Link
💻 An interesting side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is not only more people working from home, but also an increase in cybercrime as a result of this. This has caught many organizations and businesses by surprises with little information security measures in place. This is why it is critical to understand how cybercriminals operate, the tools they use and the approaches they take. Generally speaking, cyber criminals come in many different flavors, but the majority of them are in it for one thing: financial pay-off. They want the money that comes with offering their tools or services, selling stolen data, extortion like ransomware, or plain fraud. Link
🌐 One of the countermeasures to address rural decline is for tech companies to recognize that talent can operate from anywhere and provide employees the option of working from anywhere. Allow skilled tech workers to work from their rural home towns. We are clearly past the times when the only way for tech companies to maintain their corporate culture and build globally competitive solutions was through city-center monolithic office towers with sleeping pods and ping pong tables. There's a better, more sustainable option now, facilitated by digital connectivity - a remotely distributed workforce strategy underpinned by a 'hub-and-spoke' model. Link
Thought of the Day
Ameer Cajee (20 years old) and Raees Cajee (17), the two South African brothers who founded crypto investment company and exchange, AfriCrypt, have possibly conducted the world's largest Bitcoin heist valued at $3,6 billion. (Tweet this | Share on WhatsApp)
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