A 23-year-old self-described “Crypto King” from Whitby, Ontario, a city east of Toronto, owes at least $ 35 million to investors in what looks to be a cryptocurrency scam.
More than 150 investors who have delivered a collective sum of $ 20 million to Aiden Pleterski and his company, AP Private Equity Limited, which reportedly invests in cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange, are now teaming up with attorney Norman Groot for the Toronto-based fraud recovery to get their money back.
“It’s not clear at this time where those funds went, although obviously a lot has to do with his lifestyle,” Groot, founder of Investigation Counsel PC, told CTV National News.
Pleterski owned 11 high-end cars, as well as renting many more, according to Groot. He also rented a waterfront home in Burlington for about $ 45,000 a month and owned five or six watches worth between $ 200,000 and $ 400,000, according to a bankruptcy trustee’s report obtained by CTV National News.
“He was burning up a lot of money,” Groot said.
About $ 2.2 million in assets have been recovered so far, including two McLarens, two BMWs and a Lamborghini Huracan for an estimated $ 350,000. About $ 32,000 in jewelry and an additional $ 606,773 in cash and cashier’s checks were also recovered, according to bankruptcy documents filed in an Ontario court.
“They thought it was a young Bill Gates”
The revelations come amid ongoing problems in the cryptocurrency world, which has suffered significant losses as investors have realized how much digital assets not tied to a specific hard asset or guaranteed by a government or institution are actually worth. .
“The assets available immediately after bankruptcy are certainly much less than those owed to investors,” Rob Stelzer, Pleterski’s appointed trustee, told CTV News Toronto.
They also find themselves amidst other allegations of intrigue and fraud, which have continued to push lawmakers to try to impose regulations on how cryptocurrencies are valued and traded and how those who invest in them on behalf of investors should report and verify. transactions.
Pleterski called each week a “winning week,” promising investors 5-75 on returns, according to documents from a creditors’ meeting on August 29.
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“People bought us. They thought he was a young Bill Gates, “Groot told CTV.
Pleterski reportedly began investing in cryptocurrency in 2015, with a paid Forbes article prior to his bankruptcy, noting his ability to leverage his knowledge as an avid gamer to understand and thrive in the world of online trading.
“A lot of this money was taken as it increased in value, and then when it rapidly began to decline in value, people wanted what they thought was their profits … which of course, they couldn’t pay,” Groot said.
“A 20-year-old boy”
In a virtual meeting of creditors last month, Pleterski claimed that he lost all the money he was given between late 2021 and early 2022 in a series of “margin calls and bad trades,” reviewed documents. from the CTV News Toronto show.
During the meeting, the bankruptcy trustee asked for evidence of these bad transactions as well as bank statements. “So, so far Pleterski hasn’t been able to do that,” the minutes read, according to CTV News.
When Pleterski was asked why he kept investing money when he knew it couldn’t be repaid to investors, he said he was “… a 20-year-old boy.”
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In response to questions about his accounting, Pleterski said he was “very disorganized” and had “no accounting advice,” according to the minutes.
“It all went through word of mouth and it happened very quickly. She did not keep track of her finances, nor did she keep a record of his debt or payments. Pleterski said he and the creditors signed the contracts via text message, “according to the minutes of the meeting summarizing Pleterski’s responses on 29 August.