CRYPTO-CRIME SCENE: THE COINTED INVOLVEMENT IN THE OPTIOMENT CASE

Optioment and Cointed Payment Channel

Another Crypto-Crime Scene Investigation happened last week. A few days ago, we reported about the search warrant execution of the Austrian Police in the Cointed headquarter in Kufstein (Austria). Yesterday, Austrian newspapers confirmed our report and provided additional information. The authorities are obviously still searching for the money that was invested in the collapsed fraudulent Crypto-MLM scheme OPTIOMENT by several thousand investors. According to different reports, up to BTC 12,000 are missing. Based on today’s BTC exchange rate (USD 8,200) this would be some USD 102 million in FIAT.

Ronald FFrankl about Optioment
Lawyer R. FRANKL: What does Optioment teach us? (Crypto42 Summit 2018)

From what we learned from involved lawyers, authorities and media people, it’s still not clear how much BTCs really vanished in the OPTIOMENT limbo. Many investors have not yet filed complaints with the authorities because they invested untaxed (black) funds into the OPTIOMENT scheme. It seems perfectly evident, however, how a large chunk of the investors’ money was funneled to the OPTIOMENT scheme. Many investors and/or their respective sponsors used COINTEDs Crypto-ATMs to exchange their FIAT into BTC. We have heard of a network of former OPTIOMENT members in Upper Austria that was (and obviously still is) heavily engaged in this sort of “grey” exchange activities with COINTED Crypto-ATMs. The KYC processes in place with the COINTED system do not comply with generally accepted standards. One involved private investigator and security specialist called the COINTED guys “dangerously crazy idiots”.

COINTED’s founder Christopher RIEDER was named as one of the masterminds behind the OPTIOMENT scheme. He has been in Asia for several weeks and was asked by the police to return to Austria for questioning. It’s not yet clear whether RIEDER will show up with the police.

Christopher RIEDER in an interview with Brutkasten
Christopher RIEDER in an interview with “DER BRUTKASTEN” (Feb 2018)

COINTED is now distancing itself from RIEDER and purports that he has already sold his shares. According to a report published by the Austrian “DER STANDARD”, a COINTED spokesman said that RIEDER left the company already in 2017 which is definitely not true as RIEDER gave an interview to an Austrian news magazine in February 2018 (see video here). The “OPTIOMENT – COINTED” case seems still to be a mystery but the plain truth evidently is that the OPTIOMENT scheme rooted in COINTED‘s crypto-payment system, i.e. COINTED provided an important tool for the scheme.

Without COINTED’s Crypto-ATMs and their online-exchange activities, most investors would not have been able to buy BTCs and invest them into OPTIOMENT. COINTED wallets were directly or indirectly involved in the transfer of BTCs to OPTIOMENT. It was reported that COINTED’s Crypto-ATM’s were installed at OPTIOMENT events to make it easy for new investors to feed the Ponzi scheme. A profitable business for COINTED as it charges 2.5% to 4.5% fees for each transaction. OPTIOMENT could have easily earned COINTED a few hundred thousand dollars in fees, right?

Consequently, it’s clear that COINTED should have the necessary data to find at least traces of the vanished BTCs. Technically, the BTCs bought at a Crypto-ATM are transferred from a COINTED BTC wallet to the investor’s wallet from where it was transferred to the OPTIOMENT wallets. Given, that COINTED has a proper accounting it should be possible to conduct a forensic analysis and find out

  • how much BTCs were bought at Crypto-ATMs and/or online with how much real money,
  • how many BTW wallets have been involved and
  • to which wallets the BTCs were transferred from the different investors’ wallets.

The OPTIOMENT Crypto-MLM system would not have been possible without COINTED’s involvement. Any COINTED attempt to distance itself from the OPTIOMENT case is simply not plausible. It does not need a rocket scientist to work this out.

Unfortunately, an unregulated Crypto-ATM system is perfectly suited for money laundering. This is the reason why operators of Crypto-ATMs need an appropriate regulatory permission from the BaFin in Germany, for example. In Austria, the operation of Crypto-ATM’s is not yet regulated by the Financial Market Authority (FMA) which is one of the reasons why regulatory standards are not yet implemented thus wide-opening the doors for OPTIOMENT.