RIO – Stratospheric profitability, short-term returns. Whether due to the low interest scenario or the easy money formula, such promises have increasingly attracted investors to financial schemes such as last month’s overdraft in Cabo Frio (RJ). As a result of the investigations, the Federal police arrested the owner of GAS Bitcoin Consulting, the former waiter Glaidson Acácio dos Santos, accused of billionaire fraud involving cryptocurrencies.
The large number of frauds has been a matter of concern for the Securities Commission (CVM), which receives queries and complaints about schemes – part of which is beyond its scope of action. Just last year, the “market sheriff” sent 325 notices of indications of financial crimes to the Public Prosecutors (Federal and state), 75% more compared to the previous year.
According to the municipality, the most frequent complaints are financial pyramids. Of the 325 communications sent, 175 had evidence of the scheme. By duty, CVM communicates to the Prosecutors the indications of “criminal offense of public action”. However, as it is an administrative rather than a criminal sphere, it only investigates cases with “factual existence of service rendered or effective underlying business or enterprise”.
Created a century ago by the Italian Carlo Ponzi (who even lived in Brazil), the financial pyramid is a scheme by which new investors pay for the high earnings of older ones, until the business “bursts”, when the new money that comes in is insufficient to sustain profits.
In search of fraud prevention measures, the CVM conducted a survey of victims of financial pyramids, Ponzi schemes and other scams. And he identified that the most common victims are men (91%), aged 30 to 39 years (36.5% of the total), with a family income of two to five minimum wages (23%) and complete higher education or postgraduate education ( 71%).
The survey also pointed out that cryptocurrencies (of which the most famous is the bitcoin) appear at the top of the list of financial frauds. The survey shows that this was the asset used in 43% of the schemes. The survey also shows that the disclosure of fraud is more frequent by WhatsApp application (27.5%), followed by word of mouth (19.7%).
Promise of profit
A Rio resident, military policeman Pablo da Silva, 32, has a profile similar to that identified by the CVM. A little over a year ago, Silva received a call from a company that would be a “representative” of banks. The proposal was simple: he would take a loan and deposit the amount in the company’s account. The firm would invest the money, pay the debt installment, and Silva would earn 10% of the loan amount.
According to the military, the company had his personal information, which gave veracity to the scheme. He was not pressured to accept the proposal. Instead, he was invited to visit the company’s office on Avenida Rio Branco, Downtown Rio. A mirrored building, with a smart elevator. The director was a man in a suit and tie. In the following months, it took four loans, which totaled more than R$ 50 thousand.
“I needed the money and it was convenient to accept. So I fell”, laments Silva, who is facing serious financial difficulties and has a “dirty” name in the square. “Since I am the only income provider in the house, my wife trusts my decisions a lot. In view of this, I had to take measures not to run out of food for my daughters. I made several credit cards and paid with each other.”
Camila Medina, 33, was the victim of a similar scam worth R$ 65,000. A medical student, she felt ashamed and hid her family history for a while. “An intelligent woman, fooled in the most bizarre way possible”, she says. She went to work two jobs to pay her debts and pay for college, and had to take her kids out of private school. “I panicked. That’s when I decided to seek help from lawyers.”
Attorney Flávio Tavares, from the firm that bears his name, which specializes in defending victims of financial scams, says that he is sought after by victims on a daily basis. He advises that the first step is to go to the bank and report the problem, in case of bank fraud. Then, file an incident at the police station and look for a lawyer. “It’s important to save and gather all conversations, text messages,” explains Tavares.
But the most important tip for all people is not to believe in the promises of easy gains. The only investments that can safely guarantee an income are fixed income investments – linked to the Selic rate, currently at 5.25% per year. In other words, if someone promises a return like this, or sometimes even much higher, per month, it is probably a scam.
When promises of returns are tied to variable income assets – such as cryptocurrencies – it is impossible to guarantee a fixed return. Just remember what happened to bitcoin, the main cryptocurrency on the market. The asset started the year at US$ 30,000. In February it reached US$ 50 thousand and reached its peak in April, when it reached around US$ 65 thousand. After that, it started to fall and returned to almost the US$ 30,000 at the beginning of the year, only to rise again and be quoted again today at US$ 50,000. A real roller coaster to remember that this is an asset, yes, with a lot of risk.