A network of Buddhist mediation practitioners in Thailand has reportedly been the target of a gang of operators pushing a possible bitcoin pyramid.
According to a report by the Bangkok Post, a network of practicing Buddhists monks in multiple temples across Thailand were approached by a gang, purporting to be Buddhist monks, to invest in bitcoin. The gang members gained the trust of the monks and promised them rich rewards with a minimum investment of 38,000 Thai baht (approx. $1117). Up to 700- 800 Buddhist followers were persuaded to invest in the scheme and were told of returns after 300 days. Additional returns were promised if they persuaded others to invest in the bitcoin fund.
The gang also allegedly referred to a senior monk as the primary investor of the fund, which they claimed was backed by a state bank. Both these claims were later found to be untrue.
The exaggerated rewards stoked suspicions among some and a representative for a mediation group at Wat Pa Kluya approached the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to investigate the investment scheme and the gang.
“I was persuaded by a gang member myself,” the Bangkok Post quotes Charoenporn Unpranit as stating.
But I did not join it. I was not convinced by them [the gang members]. But I have learned that the gang managed to persuade about 700-800 Buddhist followers in Uttaradit, Pathum Thani and Chiang Mai to invest in the fund by infiltrating temples.
As things stand, no investors have suffered losses so far, according to regional publication The Nation. Still, the offers being made to prospective investors are reportedly “too good” to be true.
The growing popularity of bitcoin has seen schemers abuse digital currencies around the world and it is no different in parts of south-eastern Asia. In September 2016, a multi-level-marketing (MLM) scheme that used bitcoin as its currency with returns of 144% every month went bust, after seeing deposits of over $1 million during its operation. The growth in such schemes saw the Vietnamese government warn against the use of digital currencies. As ever, bitcoin took the smear and the blame for being abused by schemers.
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