This alleged $1.3B crypto scam likely faked its own CEO
protos.com 14 m
The CEO of an apparently-Chuck-Norris-backed crypto project that lost $1.3 billion of investors’ funds seemingly doesn’t exist, according to a Guardian-led investigation.
Steven Reece Lewis was introduced in 2021 as the chief executive officer of HyperVerse, a metaverse investment scheme that sold crypto subscriptions and which seemingly went unchecked by Australian regulators.
The project’s promotional material claimed that Reece Lewis sold a web development firm to Adobe and worked for Goldman Sachs. He also supposedly held a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge and graduated from the University of Leeds.
HyperVerse’s parent firm HyperTech Group also talked up his “strong performance and drive” and listed his credentials as one of the reasons behind his recruitment.
However, despite this, Reece Lewis isn’t listed in the databases of any of the universities at which he claims to have studied, nor does he have any social media presence.
Not only that, Adobe and Goldman Sachs have also rejected his claims, and he’s nowhere to be found in records held by the UK’s companies register or the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
But perhaps the strangest part of Reece Lewis’s story involves the raft of apparent celebrity endorsements that accompanied the project’s online launch.
When HyperVerse was unveiled, public figures, including Apple founder Steve Wozniak, boyband member Lance Bass, and action star Chuck Norris rushed to heap praise on it and its mysterious chief exec.
“Under the leadership of CEO Steven, HyperVerse will be the leader of metaverse space,” claimed Norris, while former Apple bigwig Wozniak said, “I’m here to support Steven and HyperVerse,” and “I can’t wait for the HyperVerse.”
According to the Guardian, it’s not clear how these celebrities were recruited but it’s worth noting that they’re all available to hire on personalized video platform Cameo.
Investors lost $1.3 billion to HyperVerse
HyperVerse is one of a number of schemes owned by ‘HyperTech group’ and run by Sam Lee and Ryan Xu. The pair previously founded Blockchain Global, a collapsed Australian bitcoin company currently in $58 million worth of debt to creditors.
International regulators have previously labeled HyperVerse as a scam and suspected pyramid scheme. According to Chainalysis, in 2022, HyperVerse alone caused $1.3 billion in investor losses.
Crypto pyramid schemes thought to have stolen billions go unchecked
However, despite condemnation from international regulators, Australian regulators have been slow to recognize HyperTech group or its affiliated schemes as suspicious.
According to the Guardian, Lee rejects claims that he is a founder of HyperVerse and denies it was a scam while Xu couldn’t be contacted. Lee reportedly represented HyperTech group as its chairman during the HyperVerse launch event while Xu was described as the firm’s founder.