Plus Token (PLUS) Scam – Anatomy of a Ponzi

6

What is Plus Token

“Plus Token” was a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme disguised as a high-yield investment program. Platform administrators closed down the operation in June of 2019, withdrawing over $3 Billion dollars in Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS and others) and leaving the message “sorry we have run”. This has lead to an international man-hunt for the platform administrators and creators of Plus Token.

PlusToken had a major following in Korea and China – especially among investors not familiar with cryptocurrencies. Plus token is a High Yield investment program which offered massive rewards on “investment” to unsuspecting victims in China and Korea. The scheme offered 9% to 18% monthly returns on investment – with larger investments getting more rewards. This type of is similar to other High Yield investment programs like “Bitconnect” which collapsed in January of 2018.

How did the Plus Token Ponzi it Work?

Plus Token is a classic ponzi scheme. It would make large promises of high returns to new investors, asking them for investments of large sums of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS and Litecoin. Investors were divided into 4 “tiers”, according to how much they invested and how many other referrals they can make.

How did it become so popular?

Plus Token relied heavily in conferences and meetups to promote the token. The following video is taken at a Plus token gathering

Payments stopped 30th of June 2019

Early signs of trouble in started surfacing in June of 2019 as users started reporting delays in fund withdraws. Some took to complain on Chinese social media site “Weibo” citing that they were unable to receive funds despite writing for 35 hours after submitting withdraw requests (Source Blocktempo).

Initially Plus token blamed on “higher miner fees” for the withdraw delays. They claimed the sent transactions with 1 sat /byte, leading to long delays on the Bitcoin Blockchain. Plus token supporters avidly as their followers to “believe” in the system and disregard the “false information”.

Ring Leaders tried to convince the community that Plus Token will come back.

“Sorry We have run” – but not fast enough

As funds began moving, one of the transactions carried the know “Sorry, we have run” as a comment to the transaction. This really needs no explanation – organisers of the scam have initiated their exit strategy and fled the country.

Arrests and extradition back to China

Law enforcement were able to arrest 6 of the suspects involved with PLUS token in Vanatu on the 29th of June 2019. They were detained and extradited back to China to face trial. Seems like they didn’t do enough research when fleeing the country.

Tip of the Iceberg

PlusToken can be seen as the tip of the Iceberg as there are many other very similar crypto ponzi schemes and scams. These include Cloud Token, S Block and other cloud “mining” tokens. At the end of the day, tokens that ‘guarentees’ high returns without a clear and audit-able business plan should generate red flags.

Laundering into exchanges

Luckily research is being down to track wallets known to be associated with Plus Token (8btc.com, @doveywan, @PeckShield). Work done by @PeckShield has shown funds moving from large wallets (~5000+ Bitcoin) to smaller wallets, and eventually into exchanges.

Map showing how Plus token funds are being laundered into Exchanges (work by @Peckshield)

Known amounts Scammed – List sum of BTC from identified and tracked addresses. Reports have been circulating that up to ~1% of the entire Bitcoin supply is involved in the scam. Currently more wallets are being added to this list.

  • 70000 BTC ($700,840,000 USD)
  • 789511 ETH ($142,111,980 USD)
  • 26299109 EOS ($92,046,881 USD)

Known Bitcoin Wallet addresses (Source 1):

  • 1MFgcyJ7ZNSknbTBRaih6zWDE6V1A64tRY (1865 BTC)
  • 3ETAVt2scYBFkBFksuNDk1i5tDLQ2c4zWR (4922 BTC)
  • 3EYsru4LUcN258sENYPu5Py3S5WnqxEcnE (3657 BTC)
  • 3HKs1g7u5a1uU4pC5HaNooYMbL1Lao4mv4 (3928 BTC)
  • 3ESakThMrdVVrbhhcpf9spicyjCg1Uk8Jm (3289 BTC)
  • 33LNws16Wfs12usWBNfa1MSX3YKY6Hdayf (3270 BTC)
  • 3HwY536CxznDxMjiRCFkpx5ykwJbJMZY4w (1725 BTC)
  • 35bCzX3RQEWdquqCPQkmdJdu2K4ut1roUZ (3676.86 BTC)
  • 31owhyALzzPEqUFwRbU5yQR4wNhYEjCiE5 (749.66 BTC)
  • 3PBN3MCpDcZKr7WdyY1ULq1NeGwLNjpkj7 (12000 BTC)
  • 14bwh6gmvol5ntwbvxqjkjdtzv4y5ebtvm (95228 BTC)
  • 33FKcwFhFBKWHh46Ksmxs3QBu8HV7h8QdF (37922 BTC)

EOS Addresses

  • eospstotoken

Ethereum Addresses

  • 0xF4a2eFf88a408ff4c4550148151c33c93442619e

Plus Token Sources and Referebces

Chinese Sources and News Coverage

Special thanks to Matthew Graham for providing the videos and research!

https://3kemao.com/archives/124864?from=singlemessage&isappinstalled=0 https://www.ccvalue.cn/article/3952.html?from=singlemessage https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/EJLo-Rjjzz283FOCbzuLuA https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/HQxl5gKd0105tUIsQ0TQPg https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/rPtQAo0sf4P_LDM-8K0Z1g

Crypto Wallet Addresses

Chainnode Research: https://www.8btc.com/article/440193
BlockTempo: https://www.blocktempo.com/unable-to-withdarw-plustoken-is-crashing-down/
Plus Token Wallet Addresses: http://gscaijing.com/archives/21291
CoinTelegraph https://cointelegraph.com/news/3b-ponzi-scheme-is-now-allegedly-dumping-bitcoin-by-the-hundreds

Arrests / Man-hunt

SCMP: https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3016604/six-chinese-nationals-wanted-beijing-internet-scam-arrested

6 COMMENTS

    • If you look at cloud, they claim their advanced AI makes them money. But the AI they have is free available and doesn’t justify their profit margins. In crypto, if it promises you high yields without significant proof, its a ponzi.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.