Scammers targeted their network of victims through social media. After the victims sent funds, the suspects told them to wait as their investments grew three to four percent daily. But victims were not allowed to withdraw, the police alleged, and their money disappeared.
Previously, Brazilian government officials have used bitcoin for illicit purposes too. In 2018, police busted a $22 million operation that siphoned funds from a prison budget and laundered them through the cryptocurrency.
The country’s government is no fan of bitcoin – whether used criminally or not. President Jair Bolsonaro bad-mouthed bitcoin on national TV in June while simultaneously stating he “doesn’t know” what it is, and former chief central banker Ilan Goldfajn compared it to a “pyramid scheme” during his tenure.