Thousands throng Bitcoin Wallet Ladysmith office looking for their money
About 1,500 angry investors gathered outside the Ladysmith police station late on Tuesday night demanding to see employees of an alleged ponzi scheme that made off with their cash.
A community leader, who did not want to be named, told TimesLIVE that hundreds of people had queued outside the Bitcoin Wallet office to invest in the scheme over the past few months.
The investors are believed to have lost thousands of rands after Bitcoin Wallet, operated by former paramedic Sphelele "Sgumza" Mbatha, "went online".
Colonel Thembeka Mbele told TimesLive that the employees, who were believed to have been taken to the police station by the angry crowd, were rescued by police.
"No one was injured and no case was opened," she said.
The community leader said: "They believed that they were going to be rich because the company promised 100% returns in just two weeks after investing. They wanted easy cash and then reality came crashing down on them," he said.
Investors "smelled a rat" almost a week ago when Bitcoin Wallet's office closed down. Mbatha reportedly said it was on the instruction of the local municipality.
However, the Alfred Duma local municipality subsequently issued a statement denying Mbatha's claim.
Mbatha is alleged to have then told investors that the company had gone online and that they needed to upload their details to be paid out.
On Tuesday, he told Ladysmith's community radio station, Nqubeko FM, that hackers had "infiltrated" the website and "stolen" investors' monies.
Investors have not been able to reach him.
"There are claims he has fled from Ladysmith, but no one can really confirm. At this stage, the whole town is talking about Bitcoin Wallet. It's a sad state of affairs because the poor may have been taken for a ride," the community leader said.