'Pastors recruited bitcoin scam victims'
But congregant says they just wanted to help people in need
“Thank Jesus for Steven Twain.”
That’s what a Gauteng pastor is alleged to have preached to unsuspecting members of his congregation who invested in the biggest bitcoin scam to hit South Africa.
According to numerous disgruntled investors, “self-proclaimed prophet” Johan van Wyk recruited them to invest in BTC Global, an alleged Ponzi scheme in which more than 27,500 people were duped out of about $50-million by investing with a “master trader” named Steven Twain.On his Facebook page less than four months ago, Van Wyk posted praise for BTC Global and its “heaven-sent” trader Steven Twain, who investors now believe never existed.
Van Wyk also posted photographs of “BTC Global meetings” at his ministry, Solid Rock Church in Roodepoort.
In November last year, he posted that 50 people joined BTC Global under him and that 4% of their investments per month would be given to the church.
Van Wyk has declined to comment but one of his congregants says he was genuinely trying to help them.IRS Forensic Investigations’ Chad Thomas said his firm was approached by several BTC Global victims claiming to have been recruited by pastors.
“One group was recruited via their pastor at their church based in Roodepoort. Another group would encourage their members to bring their friends to information sessions at a well-known location in Beyers Naude Drive, near Randburg,” he said.
Santie Fourie claimed that her family invested after her husband’s co-worker told them about Van Wyk’s recommendation of BTC Global.
“My husband’s co-worker even met this pastor. He is a pastor so we thought it is legitimate. I went onto his Facebook and saw his posts and really thought that he was honest.
“I am not angry about losing our money. I am angry that a pastor would promote [this],” she said.
Van Wyk declined to comment on the allegations made against him.
“I was advised by my lawyer not to comment due to the matter being under investigation,” he told Times Select.
A member of his congregation said Van Wyk's promotion of BTC Global actually helped members of the church.“Poor people could buy food for their families, pay rent, settle debt. I was grateful for being introduced to the opportunity.
“Prophet Johan van Wyk ... did not force anyone to sign up or place pressure on anyone. His intention was to help people to prosper in all areas of their lives. People approached him! Not the other way around,” she said.
The Hawks last week confirmed that the Serious Commercial Crimes Unit was investigating complaints against BTC Global, a company in which people from South Africa, America and Australia have invested cryptocurrency valued at over $50-million by transferring bitcoins into an online wallet address.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said more than 27, 500 people may have been duped out of about $50-million by investing with “master trader” Twain.