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Exclusive: Brazilians who operated bitcoin farms are targeted by the MPF

Involvement partner in pyramid scheme claims the gang boss owned a bitcoin farm; MPF asked the Federal Police to open an inquiry

In 2019, a video made by businessman and coach Thiago Achilles showed him in front of an alleged bitcoin farm . Suspected of participating in a pyramid scheme, he claims that Luiz Gustavo Souza de Pontes Galvanho, owner of Grupo Pontes, is the owner of the installation. As Digitaltrend found out, these scams were not limited to just one type of currency. According to reports from victims, the crime money was invested in bitcoin. Now, the gang must become a target of the Federal Police (PF) at the request of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF).

Thiago Achilles went to Dubai with money from the pyramid scams, according to the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro (Image: Reproduction)

The gang’s case was revealed by Fantástico, on TV Globo. The suspects applied pyramid scams and financial schemes through investment companies, including Fácil Capital, which brought together around 400 employees.

According to investigations by the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro, the gang traveled to Dubai with illegal money obtained through the coups.

In the UAE, Thiago Achilles even posed next to luxury cars, wearing an outfit that gave him a “sheik” appearance. Gustavo Galvanho even competed in a Jiu-Jitsu world championship. He came in third place.

Farm had more than 300 bitcoin mining machines

In a sequence of recordings, the manager explains the context. “I just posted the mining farm that I was invited to go there and see, see in person. I spent, if I’m not mistaken, two or three days there, seeing? Watching that over there,” says Achilles.

“At the time, as I remember it, there were more than 300 machines. He [Gustavo Galvanho] took me to see what they call a bitcoin mining farm. I saw all that there and there I understood that the deal was solid”, continues the former Galvanho partner. “For those who know and who understand the business know that that [bitcoin farm] with energy keeps running non-stop and generating money ‘Ad Eternum’”.

Also according to the businessman, Gustavo Galvanho told him at the time that he had purchased around 1,000 machines to increase the farm’s bitcoin mining power, and that they were about to arrive from China. Thiago Achilles deleted the videos, recorded for Stories from his Instagram account. But Techno blog had access to the material through a source at the Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro, an agency that coordinated the investigation into the case.

MPF asks PF to open investigation against gang

The MPF called for the opening of an inquiry against companies linked to Grupo Pontes for money laundering, conspiracy, embezzlement, and qualified theft. Rafael Ramiro and Gustavo Galvanho are still suspected of being involved in militias.

Among the companies belonging to Grupo Pontes that are included in the request to open an investigation are Fácil Capital, Nação Capital, Athos 21, SA Capital and Titanium Capital. According to a spokesman for the MPF, who should proceed with the investigations is the Federal Police (PF).

The complaints about the gang, however, are older: the first appeared in 2019. According to a police report (BO) registered that year in the 1st DP of the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro, to which Digitaltrend had access, Gustavo Galvanho would be using Grupo Pontes’ bank account to transfer money to other unknown accounts.

The complaint was made by Bruno Cavalcanti de Oliveira, attorney for the Pontes Group itself. According to him, Gustavo Galvanho blocked his access to the company’s current account, and transferred R$ 152,435.80 to another account, under the ownership of Evelyn Mendes Aloise.

Another BO shows that one of the companies operated by Grupo Pontes, Titanium Capital, which operated in Pernambuco, had a pyramid scheme that operated in two types of “investment”. The victim who filed this complaint with the police was the founder of Titanium, Rodrigo da Costa Moreira.

According to Moreira, in the first form of the scam, the victim invested in Titanium with his own money and was promised a monthly return of 2%. But the first payment would only be received after the 1st year with the company. The second way of applying scams forced customers to borrow a loan from the bank—10% of that loan went to the victim, while 90% went to Titanium; she promised to pay off the victim’s loan installments within 1 year.

Of the money invested by the victims, Titanium transferred 70% to Grupo Pontes. Between 2019 and 2020, the branch managed to raise R$ 1.5 million — Grupo Pontes got R$ 1.2 million. But the Titanium operation was not profitable, which led Rodrigo to suspect Galvano. Gustavo Pontes Galvanho owned the Pontes Group, the subject of a request for an investigation by the MPF (Image: Reproduction)

Pontes Group invested victims’ money in cryptocurrencies

The Digitaltrendfound that Gustavo Galvanho had companies that acted as investment funds, including cryptocurrencies. In addition to being the alleged owner of the bitcoin farm featured in the videos, he and Thiago Achilles were partners in a company called Kawai Capital.

The PowerPoint presentation that was used by Kawai to present itself to potential investors and victims said the company had more than 120 employees, including consultants, analysts, traders, management, sales staff, and support. The company claimed that it had more than 6 years of experience with financial market operations, including crypto active operations.

A former employee of Fácil Capital, another Pontes Group company, says that Gustavo Galvanho was known among employees for investing in cryptocurrencies. To keep her job, she was forced to invite relatives and friends to invest in Fácil.

“They trained us to convince family members to invest. I had to convince my husband to invest in Fácil: 'if you don't join, I'll be fired”. It was his obligation as an employee to contract with his family members”.

The former employee, who declined to be identified, says that Galvanho kept 80% of the victims’ money in a checking account, while 20% was invested in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. “In a bad month, the company earned more or less R$600 thousand. When the month was good, the revenue was more than BRL 1 million.”

One of the victims claims to be extremely close to Thiago Achilles. According to her, who also chose to remain anonymous, the businessman claimed that Gustavo Galvanho was “richer because of the rise in bitcoin”:

“He [Thiago Achilles] said that the company would last 'for the rest of your life'. I made another contribution of R$ 20 thousand, then R$ 80 thousand and then another R$ 100 thousand reais. When I made that last contribution and went to look at my account, I didn't find anything. I faced Thiago. He told me that the company had negotiated with a company in Dubai. He later even said that Gustavo put the victims' money in bitcoin.”

Quadrilha targeted public servants

By Fácil Capital, the gang promised returns of 5% to 15% depending on the amount invested by the victim. One of the investors who suffered a blow from Grupo Pontes even injected R$ 100,000 into the company at once. Then she was promised a return of R$2,500 per month for 1 full year.

The first month was paid by Fácil Capital. But after stopping the payment, the victim asked for the money back. There was no return, and the company used the pandemic excuse to claim that the amount had been blocked. The victim even signed a contract in a room with employees and managers. Rafael Ramiro was present at the time, recalls the victim. Rafael Ramiro (left) was one of the owners of Fácil Capital, a Pontes Group company (Image: Reproduction)

The Tecnoblog found that the companies belonging to Grupo Pontes had addresses and CNPJ in Recife, São Paulo, Santos and Rio de Janeiro — Fácil had an office in Cinelândia, in the city center.

But the victims are from “all over Brazil”, as the former employee interviewed by the report says. The gang was especially targeting civil servants, and there was a department within the company that used public databases to obtain CPF and credit scores from civil servants.

The general feeling of the victims is of frustration with the investigations conducted by the Justice:

“I am apprehensive about my future, about my life. I'm worried about not getting the money back, the way things are. I think the court is handling the case with total disinterest. The victims are unemployed, borrowed money and are depending on relatives. People talk to Gustavo [Galvanho] and say he laughs and laughs.”

Sought by Digitaltrend, the Federal Police declined to comment on the investigation, stating that “it does not disclose information about ongoing investigations.”

The report sought out Thiago Achilles and Gustavo Galvanho, but they still haven’t manifested. Space remains open to positioning. The DIGITALTREND could does not find the defense, Rafael Ramiro.

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