SINGAPORE: When Ms Goh joined cryptocurrency trading platform Torque — because some of her friends were on it — payouts were better than interest rates that banks were offering. There was also a chance that the cryptocurrencies would appreciate in value, she said.
The platform looked stable and appeared to be run by “reputable people”, added the investor, who declined to give her full name.
Trouble surfaced, however, as Chinese New Year approached this year. After a year of payouts that arrived like “clockwork”, which for her worked out at 0.014 per cent a day, they stopped.
Torque, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, suspended investors’ accounts and went into liquidation.
Investors reported the platform to the police, and its chief executive Bernard Ong claimed that an employee’s unauthorised trading activities had led to significant losses in investors’ accounts, The Straits Times reported.
Ms Goh lost about S$30,000, she told the programme Money Mind.
While there are investors who have made big gains from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in recent years, others have lost sizeable savings through poor investment decisions or scams.
READ: Meet the Singapore-based crypto investor who bought a S$93m artwork
Singapore police received 533 reports of crypto-related cheating, fraud or other crimes between 2018 and last year, of which 393 were made last year. Investors lost around S$29 million.
This is despite Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) warnings that cryptocurrencies are volatile and “highly risky” investment products unsuitable for retail investors.
READ: Commentary: Will Bitcoin become mainstream currency in Singapore one day?
Experts told Money Mind the main risks are bad investments in obscure coins, getting into crypto projects that fail and falling for scams.
EVER-EVOLVING SCAM TACTICS
Besides the unregulated nature of crypto, scammers are using stories of people who have struck it rich to “play on the greed of investors”, said Choo Oi Yee, chief commercial officer for private capital platform ADDX.
Two types of scams are the Ponzi scheme, whereby money from new investors serves as returns for earlier investors, and the “pump…