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Bitcoin fraud suspect denied bail

Yeukai Karengezeka Court Correspondent

A bitcoin cryptocurrency dealer who allegedly duped an eye specialist of US$457 000 by stealing money from his accounts has been denied bail.

Lloyd Chiyangwa (30), who is charged with theft and money laundering, was denied bail by Harare regional magistrate Mrs Marehwanazvo Gofa.

She said if granted bail, there were high chances Chiyangwa would continue to defraud more people as the offence was committed using the internet.

The State opposed bail on the grounds that Chiyangwa had two passports and two South African bank accounts, which received part of the money, and was likely going to escape to South Africa.

The complainant is an eye specialist who operates an eye clinic in Harare.

It’s alleged that during July 2020, the complainant bought cryptocurrency while in India from a company in the United Kingdom.

When he returned to Zimbabwe in 2021, he engaged Chiyangwa who deals in cryptocurrency trading to set up bitcoin wallets, sell his bitcoins, exchange or move tokens from one wallet to another and purchase other cryptocurrencies for his portfolio.

Chiyangwa subsequently set up five wallets for the complainant: Trust Wallet, Exodus, Cosmostation, Wemix, and Metamask to store his cryptocurrencies accounts as well as two Trezor cloud storage devices.

During the process, he had access to privileged seed phrases and passwords of the complainant’s wallets.

Between October 2021 and March this year, Chiyangwa allegedly stole tokens from different wallets of the complainant and transferred them to his own wallet.

He did so in batches of US$261 500, US$49 950, US$98 915, US$7 800, US$7 268, US$30 874, and US$5 155 giving a total of US$457 468.

The court heard that the matter came to light in May after the complainant wanted to trade using his Trust wallet and discovered that Chiyangwa had transferred all the tokens into his own account.

Chiyangwa used part of the proceeds of the crime to acquire two iPhone 14 cellphones, a laptop and a Mercedes Benz sedan, among other items.

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