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Many Bhutanese lured to be members of a Ponzi scheme making crypto claims

It claims to have 30,000 members in Bhutan

Bhutanese citizens, especially the uneducated ones in villages, are being lured to take part in the Tallwin Life Scheme through the social media and mainly Telegram.

Although it claims to make use of crypto, the scheme has reached its popularity among rural people, with farmers and uneducated people, lured by word of mouth, and so people are convinced of the scheme’s benefits and returns.

With 8,371 Bhutanese members in its Telegram group, it claims that there is a total of 30,000 Bhutanese who are now members of the scheme.

Many individuals in the Telegram group joined as their friends recommended them, but they have no idea how it works and how it would benefit them. A few members of the Telegram group claim that they haven’t invested as yet.

Other members who were uneducated did not invest as they think of it as ponzi scam, and even while asking around, people told them it was a scam and not to participate.

Tallwin Life Scheme is a website that started running in January 2022. It claims that the company is running all of its servers and services from the United States.

This scheme is said to be Multi-Level Marketing plan, where the users invest USD 30 to become a member of this scheme.

The Ponzi scheme promises unrealistic and fantastical returns. A person joining has to ‘invest’ USD 30 or Nu 2,700 deposited into a Tallwin account in Thimphu. Like in a pyramid scheme it offers you 15 USD when you get someone to join.

The scheme also promises that for an investment of 30 USD or Nu 2,700, after 11 to 12 months it gives a return of 1,534.5 USD or Nu 122,760.

It also claims to have its own crypto coin called T-LIFE COIN which it claims was launched on 25 May 2023 though most people joined through word of mouth and social media.

Crypto experts that this paper talked to in the past said that people should watch out for scam coins disguised as crypto coins as fake crypto is increasingly being misused to dupe people.

The scheme claims that the transactions and investments by users are made using crypto currency called USDT and TRON. USDT is the USD-pegged stablecoin issued by Tether on TRON network. However, this is yet to be verified.

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) released a public notification on 18 November 2022 cautioning people on the scheme being a fraudulent investment and a Ponzi scheme.

According to an official from RMA, despite the caution, people still seem to be participating.

“Tallwin Life Scheme is illegal. In Bhutan, members transfer Nu 2,700 which is deposited as dollars in their Tallwin account, which is illogical. It is considered money laundering as without any authorization, no one can send or do money transactions outside the country or without invoices or documents.”

He also said that it works based on downline members where individuals earn depending on the number of recruits and in the long run when it reaches a large group of people and every member starts investing, it is bound to vanish leaving people in chaos.

By then even if people file complaints, nothing can be done to help, he added.

Similarly, a tech expert says anyone can operate a business from the US. These kinds of schemes, especially target people who belong to third-world countries like India, Nepal and Bhutan where people are not aware of the schemes.

“Ponzi schemes, like these, work where initial investors make a return, and that is how they build the reputation. Initially, you get people to invest, and pay them off as they will help in building the reputation. Once people start making money, they will influence more. As they reach enough investors and make enough money, the founders will shut down the scheme. The majority of the people will not make any return, which is ultimately a scam,” he added.

A few Bhutanese people who are a member of this scheme claim that it is not a scam.

A member and admin of the Tallwin Telegram from Thimphu said a member approached him to join the scheme, which he felt could be a scam in the beginning. However, after doing research on it, he decided to join the scheme, and thereby, he also recommended his friends to join the scheme.

He said that there are many similar schemes, like Krypton, DollarDash, Albino, GDST, Allwin, Dollardeal and out of which many individuals chose Tallwin Life Scheme in Bhutan.

Another member who is a retired civil servant said that there are already many digital cryptos like Bitcoin, Crypto Coin, Bitdeer, etc. All these are being carried out globally like any other offline business but with regard to online crypto and network industry programs, it is still not clear, especially when Bhutan is still adapting to the new digital world. He also added that the scheme is not a scam.

The Office of Consumer Protection Unit (OCP), said though they have not received any official complaints against the scheme, but they had a few people who walked in complaining about the scheme.

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