Here are two key figures in a scheme to recruit the public into a get-rich-quick scheme that will supposedly make a mint off the back of Bitcoin.
The picture begs an obvious question – if the scheme is above board, why are they so desperate to hide their faces?
It’s called USI-Tech, short for United Software Intelligence, and according to the people plugging the scheme you can make a fortune for very little effort.
One UK organiser, Sharon James, claims in tweets to have become a millionaire in seven months, boasting: “I earn as much as footballers.”
Her co-presenter at recruiting sessions is Tracey Peake, who has claimed online: “I can’t believe how easy this Bitcoin-building business is. I earn while I sleep.”
The USI-Tech website claims to be an online platform that allows you to automatically earn and trade Bitcoin and “even the most experienced traders are jealous” of their success.
It says that investors net profits of up to 150% and, incredibly, the returns do not even depend on the value of Bitcoin.
Followers in the UK are busy recruiting new investors at nationwide conferences.
The Mirror went to one of their fortnightly events in Haydock, Merseyside, but it did not pan out as they’d planned, because the hotel cancelled the booking following a spate of negative online reviews. One read: “How can a lovely looking hotel like this allow ponzi schemes like USI-Tech to be punted on its premises?”
James and Peake resorted to huddling the four or five attendees around a table in the lobby to hear their sales pitch.
Ms James blamed “haters” for the debacle: “Unfortunately they’ve gone on the hotel website, their Facebook, and left really bad reviews.
“There’s about 17 of them.
“They’ve even rang the police station, what the police are going to do I don’t know, I’ve got nothing to hide. Don’t believe the haters.”
The pair were not happy when my colleague Helen Whitehouse introduced herself as a Mirror journalist.
“Please leave, move now,” Ms James ordered. “Can you believe this? Have you set this up?”
Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Nor would the women tell us how the scheme works or how it produces such high returns.
But legal action in the United States has produced some useful answers.
The Securities And Exchange Commission in Texas has obtained a “cease and desist” order, banning USI-Tech from recruiting investors.
It called the business “a secretive, Dubai-based firm” and added that “the sales agents are attempting to deceive the public by claiming that USI-Tech has a “binding legal opinion” from a law firm stating the company is ‘a legal business in good standing’.”
The regulator suggested that money is not made from anything to do with Bitcoin, but by recruiting more people to put cash into the scheme.
It pointed out that investors are told they can get up to 35% commission from its “unique referral marketing plan”.
USI-Tech had now ended all its operations in the United States and Canada, which does not bode well for its future over here.
By the way, I’ve come across Tracey Peake before, telling in 2016 how she was recruiting people to a business that sold machines that could apparently change the molecular structure of water, with miraculous results.
Kangen water, so her sales pitch went, can “make a huge difference to people’s health and wealth!”
She also pushed Traffic Monsoon, which claimed you could earn money by clicking on online adverts – US regulators accused it of being an international ponzi scam and have frozen its assets.