Police arrest 20 in digital Unete currency scam


Scammers are now including online shopping pages on their websites and ‘donating “ their scam coins to legitimate charities in their fake cryptocurrency pyramid scams to fool potential investors into thinking that investing is more reliable than it really is.

As in all cryptocurrency new coin scams, the new currency is created by altering the open source Bitcoin code. Coins have to be mined to be created. Then for a coin to have worth people must be willing to pay money or exchange goods/services for them. Scammers can use a new currency to build on the rush of people wanting to invest to make money. The momentum of initial investors drives up the worth of the new coin, attracting more investors. More investors mean a steady flow of money coming in and allows pyramid scammers to pay off early investors. This raises the credibility of the new coin, so more investors will be interested.

The official Unete website at unetenet.net offered investors educational courses on how to invest using the Unente coin and how to recruit other investors.

Police Arrest 20 in Digital Currency Pyramid Scheme

Stan Higgins
July 16,2015

Spanish police have arrested 20 individuals in connection with a pyramid scheme that used a fake digital currency called the unete to attract unwitting investors.

The Spanish National Police Corp announced the arrests on 16th July, which took place in Madrid and other parts of the country.

Police estimate that the scheme resulted in as much as €50m in losses, ensnaring roughly 50,000 victims worldwide – with 6,000 in Spain alone.

Spanish police seized over €5m and approximately $22m from related bank accounts. Two luxury cars and 18 computers were also taken into custody. According to police, the investigation into the scheme was sparked a year and a half ago after a former employee approached law enforcement officials.

In late June, Spanish language newspaper El País reported that a number of investors had begun legal action against those allegedly behind the scheme.

That report, which focused on founder José Manuel Ramírez Marco, outlined how the scheme, launched in 2013, quickly gained traction among investors for its flashy promotional events and charismatic sales pitches.

Investors exchanged euros for unetes – modelled after bitcoin and given a promised value of $1 apiece – and were encouraged to bring more investors into the scheme in order to receive bonuses.

Police said investors were promised as much as $1,300 in weekly returns. The scheme's official site promised the ability to shop online with the digital currency. (Note: The Unetes site at unetenet.net appears to have been removed)

Key to the enterprise was an operation based in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean island-nation and business tax haven, through which the illicit funds flowed. In April 2014, Latvian bank Riemutu closed an account owned by Ramírez in connection with an investigation into money laundering, effectively stopping the scheme in its tracks.

Ramírez also organized a so-called Unetenet Foundation to gather donations for sexual violence victims. Despite soliciting funds from investors, El País reported, Ramírez appears to have never registered the group or actually conducted any charitable activities.