The CEO of a crypto Ponzi scheme appears, much like the promises his firm made, to be completely fake.
As The Guardian reports, Steven Reece Lewis was put forth with all kinds of bona fides in 2021 when the HyperVerse metaverse platform/crypto fund announced that he would be taking over as its CEO. Per the paper's investigation, however, there's just one problem: Reece Lewis doesn't appear to actually exist.
Like most Ponzi schemes, HyperVerse made deceptively simple promises that were too good to be true. Investors could put in as much or as little money as they wanted and were told they would receive minimum returns of 0.5 percent per day. According to the Chainalysis blockchain firm, HyperVerse brought in an estimated $1.3 billion by early 2022, and no returns on investment ever materialized for the people duped into giving the fund their money.
Last month, the publication's Australian arm reported that HyperVerse is little more than a crypto-fied pyramid scheme that has bilked trusting Aussies out of millions. Besides warnings from regulators in neighboring New Zealand, The Guardian Australia's conclusion is based on its own investigation, which found that HyperVerse founders Sam Lee and Zijing "Ryan" Xu have been involved in a number of seemingly fraudulent crypto projects.
The veracity of HyperVerse's get-rich-quick claims has been under scrutiny since 2021, when the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority suggested that HyperFund, its original iteration, was a scam and urged citizens to watch out for it. Not long after the UK regulator's scam alert was released, the fund collapsed.
In December of that same year, the report explains, HyperFund rebranded to HyperVerse and Reece Lewis was announced as the company's new CEO during an online launch event at which a man going by that name spoke. By January 2022, video endorsements from celebs like Chuck Norris and Apple's Steve Wozniak — both of whom, as the Behind MLM blog points out, sell customizable videos on the Cameo platform — began cropping up to shill the company.
According to HyperVerse promotional materials reviewed by The Guardian, Reece Lewis was said to have matriculated at both the University of Leeds and Cambridge in the UK, to have worked at Goldman Sachs, and to have sold a startup to Adobe before being tapped to lead the rebranded crypto-cum-metaverse scheme.
But when the outlet's reporters reached out to the aforementioned institutions, none of them had ever heard of the man, and there's no record of him in company registries in the UK or US. The only digital footprint for the man that exists at all is a Twitter profile created a month prior to the December 2021 rebrand, and its last post — a retweet at that — was made during the summer of 2022.
There are, of course, tons of outstanding questions. Who was the man who spoke at the HyperVerse rebrand? Why pretend to build a metaverse to sell a crypto scam? And, perhaps most importantly, why the hell are people still falling for these farces?
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