Singapore is the crypto hub of Southeast Asia and the regions that surround it. The blockchain industry will be ranked among the top 3 trends in the country in 2020. Therefore, it is no surprise that the country has seen a lot of digital assets startups in the recent past.
The recent developments have compelled the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)to adopt a pro-block chain stance with favorable taxing and public funding for blockchain technology in the country. The MAS considers the crypto industry a huge addition to Singapore’s economic development. Crypto trading is regulated under the Payment Services Act primarily for terrorism financing risks and money laundering.
Status of Cryptocurrency Industry in Singapore
Singapore has joined several countries that aim to set up the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association. The association will be dedicated to assisting small and medium-sized blockchain and cryptocurrency enterprises.
However, the crypto industry has experienced a lot of fraud cases in the recent past. Many of these crypto startups are only riding on the trends and setting up Ponzi schemes that defraud unsuspecting users of their money.
What is Torque?
Established in 2019 in the British Virgin Islands, Torque is an online cryptocurrency trading platform started by Bernard Ong, a Singaporean. Torque looked like a multi-level marketing investment platform where investors are required to put in their money while they recruit other investors to the platform.
Members who get new investors to sign up get a referral commission through their business model. The trading platform was designed to trade crypto on behalf of its investors and make them a profit.
Torque uses a blend of manual trading and artificial intelligence to achieve their daily returns between 0.15% and 0.45%. The platform utilizes arbitrage trading and scalping to make profits for its investors without utilizing smart contracts. The platform has an office in four other countries in Asia. Find out more on how to buy crypto in Singapore.
- Minimum initial deposit: 1 ETH, 0.02 BTC,250 USDT, or the equivalent of 250 USD
- Average returns: 0.15%- 0.45%
- Minimum withdrawal: the equivalent of 2 USD
- Platforms: Web and mobile app
- Deposits converted to Torque Token (TORQ)
So What Exactly Happened to Torque?
1. Loss on investment
As of March 2021, more than 70 reports have been filed against Torque Trading systems in Singapore. Most of its retail investors claim to have lost all their investments in cryptocurrencies. The retail investors claiming millions lost were informed that a torque employee of the company had violated regulations and performed an unauthorized trading activities that led to the significant losses from the investors accounts.
All this happened in early February 2021 just, three days before the Chinese holidays. Its owner a Singaporean businessman Bernard Ong had listed an incomplete address in the British Virgin Islands, so there is no way to have access to him.
After the reports, Torque’s chief executive officer the company sent a letter to its investors stating that Torque had suspended further trading to prevent further loss. Trading would resume once the investigations were complete, where the investors could choose whether they would continue trading or withdraw their remaining balance and close their accounts.
2. What went wrong?
Mr. Ong applied for the wind up of the company to the British Island courts. Unfortunately, his application was granted in mid-March with Mr. Jason Kardachi and Mr. Philip Smith from Borrelli Walsh appointed as the joint liquidators of the company.
Borrelli Walsh estimated that the creditors claimed US$325 million as of March 2nd 2021, but the only assets under the liquidator’s control were valued at SS$9.1 million as of March 14th 2021.
It is alleged that the CEO of Torque has filed a police report against the employee responsible for the unauthorized leveraged trading leading to the significant losses in Singapore. However, they said to be based away from Singapore and cannot be contacted. The police confirmed Mr. Ong’s claims and promised the investors that they were looking into it.
How to Protect Yourself from Cryptocurrency Fraud?
Cryptocurrency schemes have become more common than ever before. The media has hyped how fast people are getting rich from crypto assets. Fraudsters are now taking advantage of naive investors who do not know much about crypto assets space investing and scamming them of their hard-earned cash.
Some of the reasons why crypto assets scams are on the rise include:
- Huge media interest, making it a regular hook for phishing and scams.
- Few regulations exist governing cryptocurrency markets as compared to the regular stock markets.
- Social media amplifies the buzz around crypto assets trading.
- The increase in the crypto assets prices attracts investors looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.
What Are the Most Common Cryptocurrency Scams?
When you learn what crypto scams look like, it will be easy for you to spot them and avoid being a victim of them. Here are some of the most common types of scams:
1. Ponzi Schemes
Here, investors are tricked into investing in a company that doesn’t exist with the promise of getting rich quickly. These schemes do nothing for you but enrich the fraudster.
Crypto is an easy target for fraudsters since they always use new and unproven technology to market their products to investors with the promise of large value profits. It is very easy to falsify data virtually since most people do not know how to verify it.
2. Fake Celebrity Endorsements
A fraudster will often highjack the celebrity’s social media accounts and sometimes create fake ones to get the attention of the people they want to scam. One scammer used Elon Musk’s name to con $2m from people. Most of them invested with them because they trusted Elon, and the platform seemed trustworthy.
3. Pump and Dump
In other instances, scammers encourage investors to buy shares from the less-known crypto companies based on false information. When the share price rises, they sell their shares, making a killer profit and leaving their victim with worthless stock.
4. Imposter Apps
Some fraudsters spoof legitimate crypto apps and upload them to app stores. When you install them on your phone, they steal your financial and personal data and, in some cases, install malware on your phone.
Other cybercriminals will have you pay for non-existence services to steal your login details to your crypto wallet.
5. Fake Crypto Exchanges
Scammers send emails or send you messages on social media promising access to virtual cash stored in the crypto exchanges. However, the user must first pay a small fee and later find out that the exchange does not exist, losing your money forever.
6. Fake Press Releases
In other cases, the fraudster manages to fool journalists and publish fake information. An example of this happened when two trusted news sites wrote stories about two big retailers about to start accepting cryptocurrencies.
The bogus press releases were designed as part of the pump and dump strategy to make the fraudsters’ shares in the respective currencies more valuable.
Phishing is one of the most popular ways fraudsters get your personal information. They spoof your text messages, emails, and social media messages and look like they are from a legitimate source such as your bank, credit card provider, or a government official. Scammers try to hurry you to act fact without thinking.
Find out more about the precautions before buying cryptocurrency in crypto fear and greed index.
What Are the Ways to Avoid Falling Victim to Scammers?
The best way to avoid fraudsters is incredulity. It would help if you did not believe everything that you read online. Here are some ways you can avoid getting scammed:
- Do not provide your personal information or financial details through text, email, or DM.
- As the saying goes – if the deal is too good … do not believe every investment scheme you hear about.
- Have a two-factor authentication for any crypto account that you have.
- Make sure that you always use official apps.
- Do not invest in anything that requires you to make an upfront investment.
- Install anti-malware software for your mobile phone and PC.
The world has gone crypto crazy, and Torque is just one example of how innocent investors are losing their money to fraudsters worldwide. Before making any investment online, make sure that you choose an exchange with a good reputation. You can also spread your investment across different crypto exchanges to be safe.
- Torque was established in the British Virgin Islands, with less strict regulations on crypto.
- Torque has a multi-level model where investors gain commission upon referring other investors.
- Investors should always be on the lookout for specific features that tell you that a particular business is a scam.
- Always have a two-factor verification for your crypto account.
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