Brothers’ Bitcoin heist sees entrepreneurs flee with £2.5 billion in crypto cash

A pair of brothers have vanished along with $3.6 billion (£2.5 billion) worth of Bitcoin that had been stored in their cryptocurrency investment platform.

South African brothers Ameer and Raees Cajee, who set up their crypto investment service Africrypt in 2019, were last heard from in an email to investors claiming the company had been hacked earlier this year.

The suspicious email, seemingly sent by Ameer who is named chief operating officer of Africrypt, request that their investors not report the hacking to authorities or lawyers.

Investors received the email when Bitcoin was surging to an all-time high in April of this year.

But luckily a group of sceptical investors contacted a law firm, Hanekom Attorneys, “which focuses on all aspects of the cryptocurrency industry” and advises “large volume traders, exchanges and arbitrage companies.”

The firm quickly reported the incident to the Hawks, an elite unit of South Africa's national police force, and also to crypto exchanges across the globe.

In a statement the law firm said: “We were immediately suspicious as the announcement implored investors not to take legal action.

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"Africrypt employees lost access to the back-end platforms seven days before the alleged hack.”

The firm found that the entirety of Africrypt's funds were transferred out of its South African accounts and client's wallets.

The currency was reportedly pooled with other bitcoin transactions to make them untraceable.

The Cajee brothers had previously appeared in a local news media outlet The Umhlanga Magazine and were interviewed about the success of Africrypt.

“Our goal is to bridge the gap between cryptocurrency and fiat currency, making it a seamless transition between the two," the brothers were quoted.

"The vision for Africrypt has always been to develop the first African cryptocurrency-focused bank, providing decentralised finance to the people who need it most, giving easy access to capital for young entrepreneurs, and stimulating growth and prosperity."

The massive heist comes after Mirror Trading International, another South African bitcoin trader, collapsed last year with losses of over $1 billion (£720m) in cryptocurrency.

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