Man loses US$457 000 to bitcoin dealer
Yeukai Karengezeka Court Correspondent
A Harare man who specialises in cryptocurrency (bitcoin) business has appeared in court for allegedly duping an eye specialist of US$457 000 in a bitcoin deal by stealing the money from his accounts.
Lloyd Chiyangwa (30) appeared before Harare regional Magistrate Mrs Marehwanazvo Gofa charged with theft and money laundering.
He was remanded in custody pending bail application.
The State was opposing 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 Centre in Harare.
The State alleged that sometime in July 2020, the complainant bought crypto-currency whilst 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, sale of 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, namely Trust Wallet, Exodus, Cosmostation, Wemix, and Metamask to store his crypto-currencies 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.
During the period extending from October 2021 to March 2023, Chiyangwa stole tokens from different wallets of the complainant and transferred them to his 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 respectively bringing the total amount to 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 things.