The man says he is remorseful, but recently started a crypto company again. Recently, the court in Amsterdam sentenced him to 27 months in prison, of which 12 months were suspended. He appeals.
Day trading in cryptocurrencies
At the beginning of 2018, the then 24-year-old Pieter J. founded the investment company Bitnextfast. With that company, he would become active for his investors in day trading in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. He predicted a return of 0.5 to 1 percent per day to potential customers.
This return could be paid out at any time. In addition, customers would not risk losing a lot of money because Bitnextfast would work with a ‘stop loss scheme’ and a deposit insurance. To instill even more confidence, J. showed some customers around his office in Amsterdam Zuidas.
Bitnextfast advertised with a smart movie on its own website and on social media like Facebook. The company claimed to work with a team of highly experienced crypto traders. In fact, J. hired his mother-in-law’s girlfriend, a cousin, and a friend who had no experience as a crypto-trader.
The money poured in
The false promises paid off; the money poured into Bitnextfast in early 2018. Within six months, the investment company raised more than 5.6 million euros. The millions came from about 140 people who had no experience with cryptocurrencies but who wanted to take advantage of the hype.
A study by the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) showed that J. of the millions invested actually invested almost 700,000 euros in cryptocurrencies. Of the 3.9 million euros that investors invested after May 8, no crypto was bought at all.
The young man spent much of the money paying off his personal debt and financing a luxurious lifestyle.
For example, he paid around 350,000 euros from his company account for luxury goods such as watches, renting an apartment in Amsterdam, hotel stays at home and abroad as well as renting private planes for and holidays in Ibiza, Nice and Monaco.
In addition, he transferred around 650,000 euros to his private accounts, of which he withdrew 278,000 euros in cash. He also transferred 100,000 euros to his own real estate company and 76,000 euros to his girlfriend.
He also transferred 138,000 euros to an acquaintance’s account, which then returned the money to him in cash.
To keep investors happy
The man used another portion of the money his clients had deposited to pay “returns” to investors. He also used it to fund the amount of clients who wanted to withdraw their investment. In doing so, he kept his investors ‘satisfied’, he subsequently stated.
In reality, there was no return. Research from FIOD showed that the crypto investments only resulted in a loss of more than 325,000 euros. Bitnextfast was therefore not an investment fund, but a pyramid scheme.
Against the lamp
After only six months, J. ran into trouble. In response to signals of suspicious transactions, FIOD’s investigation service launched an investigation into the man’s activities.
At the end of July 2018, FIOD and the tax authorities raided Bitnextfast’s office and J. was arrested.
At the time, media reported that several well-known Dutchmen had also entrusted money to J., ‘including a number of young prominent people from the music industry’. People from the martial arts world in Brabant and criminals would also be among the duped investors.
After completing the investigation, the Public Prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 3 years, of which 1 year was conditional on, among other things, fraud and money laundering.
‘No bad intentions’
During the criminal case, J. stated that he had grown up among people with a luxurious standard of living to which he had become accustomed. According to his lawyer, the man never acted with malicious intent. “He intended to trade crypto with the money invested, but it has grown over his head.”
According to his lawyer, the fact that J. spent his clients’ investment money on private expenses should not be seen as theft. That money the man would have taken ‘as an advance’ on the expected return.
New crypto company
During the case, the scammer claimed that he has been thinking a lot since 2018 and now realizes that he can no longer make money fast. After getting out of jail, he says he will take a paid job to pay off his debt.
However, the public prosecutor considers that the risk of recidivism is high, ‘due to the suspect’s financial problems, greed for money and lack of fixed income’.
Just before the trial in this case, J. was actually arrested on suspicion of a similar act. The man appears to have set up another crypto trading company.
A ruling released Friday shows that the court in Amsterdam at the beginning of last week ruled that J. is guilty of fraud and money laundering, and has sentenced him to 27 months in prison. Of these, 12 months are conditional on a probationary period of two years.
The sentence was lower than the prosecution’s demands, partly because the case dragged on and the man cooperated during the trial. The court also took into account his personal circumstances, as the father of a family with three young children.
Victims of the curator
The claim for damages from a large number of aggrieved investors in the criminal case was not honored by the court. They must file their claims for damages with the trustee, who will decide J’s personal bankruptcy and the bankruptcy of his crypto business.
Lawyer Michael Berndsen says his client has “no comments at this time” on the verdict and the creation of the new crypto company. Berndsen informs us that the man will appeal the decision of the court in Amsterdam.