Hundreds demand extradition of Vietnamese CEO for $36mln cryptocurrency fraud

By Dy Tung   August 4, 2018 | 03:44 am PT
Hundreds demand extradition of Vietnamese CEO for $36mln cryptocurrency fraud
Le Minh Tam, CEO of Sky Mining, met with investors in April 2018.
800 plus people have demanded extradition from the US of a man involved in an alleged $36 million cryptocurrency scam.

The online petition on wants  Le Minh Tam, CEO of the HCMC-based cryptocurrency mining firm Sky Mining, to be deported from the U.S., where he is said to have fled with $36 million from thousands of investors.

The petiton, created on Thursday, had garnered 821 signatures on Saturday at the time of posting.

Tam’s company collected the millions from around 5,000 investors who were “sold” cryptocurrency mining rigs, each costing $500 to $5,000. The firm promised high returns on investment.

The petition stresses that the company’s victims were not only in Vietnam, but also Japan and Africa. It says that many investors lost everything they had after selling gold or land to invest in this venture. Some have even committed suicide, the petition claims.

This is just the latest step taken by investors trying to expose Tam and get their money back. Hundreds of complaints have also been filed with the police in HCMC’s Phu Nhuan District, where the company was located.

Active since March this year, Sky Mining claimed to specialize in purchasing computers to solve algorithms, a process known as cryptocurrency mining.

It had acquired 7,000 mining rigs, computer systems that perform necessary computations for cryptocurrency mining, investors said.

Investors were asked to pay $100 to $5,000 for each of these rigs, which were to be kept at Sky Mining’s 26 storage spots scattered all over the country.

Sky Mining promised that after 12 months, investors would earn back all their initial investment and make profits of up to 300 percent.

However, since last week, investors and company board members have been unable to reach Tam. They found the company’s main office in Phu Nhuan District to have been closed, with its nameplate removed.

They also found that all 600 mining machines in the company's factory in the neighboring Dong Nai Province's Bien Hoa Town had been taken away by a group of people claiming to be maintenance workers.

This has led to suspicions that Tam might have run away with their money.

According to the HCMC Police Department, Tam left the city’s Tan Son Nhat airport and flew to Doha, Qatar on July 22. His final destination is still unknown.

But on, it is claimed that Tam has bought a house in San Jose, California and is living in Georgia. No information is available on his family’s whereabouts.

The Sky Mining alleged fraud case is similar to that of another tech company in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 whose office was stormed by investors demanding refunds in April.

The investors said that the IT firm, Modern Tech, had cheated them of VND15 trillion ($650 million) with a cryptocurrency ponzi scheme.

The alleged $650 million loss is 150 times larger than Modern Tech’s initial equity of $4.4 million invested by a group of only eight people who founded the company in October 2017.

Modern Tech representatives until now have not responded to the accusations, and its founders have remained incommunicado.

Vietnam imported a total of 6,400 cryptocurrency mining systems in the first four months of the year, according to official data.

The country has constantly been in the top five countries with the highest traffic to the Bitcoin trading platform and Bitcoin news site, CryptoCompare data shows.

Despite proposals to legalize Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, authorities have asserted that they are not legitimate in Vietnam.

Vietnam also does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

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