National Police arrest Santiago Fuentes, the Tenerife bitcoin scammer

2020/10/22 10:16:33 Written by Canarian Weekly Business

The National Police have tracked down and arrested cryptocurrency fraudster, Santiago Fuentes, in one of his homes in Tenerife. Fuentes is the owner of Arbistar 2.0, based in Playa Las Americas, and is accused of defrauding up to 32,000 people in a bitcoin scam, potentially worth up to 850 million euros.

His arrest took place yesterday in the south of Tenerife in one of the four houses he owns, and he claimed that he was periodically alternating where he stayed as he felt threatened.

The Judicial agents carried out searches both at the home where Fuentes was arrested, and at the other three he owns, and then they transferred him to the Las Americas police station, where he has remained overnight.

According to police sources Fuentes is scheduled to appear in Court No.3 in Arona today, and he will be charged with the crimes of fraud, belonging to a criminal organization, and money laundering. Once the arrest took place, the judicial authority decided to lift the secrecy of the investigation.

The investigation had been ongoing since September, following lawsuits filed by some clients regarding what they considered an alleged crime of pyramid fraud. The scandal broke out when on September 12th, the Arbistar 2.0 company determined the cancellation of one of the company's star products, the so-called Community Bot, which implied that more than 32,000 families could not access savings in the form of bitcoins that they had invested in products of the company, a situation that would affect investments worth at least 9.3 million euros.

At that time, Santiago Fuentes himself, in a statement made by videoconference to RTVC, explained that "mismanagement caused the Community Bot to fall," abundant in the fact that it was "an arbitration robot, a computer process that was in charge of buying cheap (cryptocurrencies) and then sell them high automatically."

In his speech, Fuentes confirmed that there was a problem with said product, "but it is not true that there is a scam or a bankruptcy," ensuring that the rest of the group was functioning normally. "When I warned clients that this particular product was being closed, I was at my house and you will understand that if the intention was to scam, no one would act in this way."

In his idea of ​​launching a message of tranquility, the owner of the company Arbistar 2.0 insisted that they were going to continue working on finding solutions for the people who had been affected, while ensuring "direct action with each one so that they can earn as much money as possible" in negotiations that, he said, would include advantages in other products of the firm.

The truth is that, despite such good disposition, the companies offices in the Zentral Centre remained closed, a situation that Fuentes recognized and explained that it was for security reasons, as: "We have received threats."

About 32,000 people affected:
At first, in Tenerife there was a dozen complaints against Arbistar 2.0, worth more than 300,000 euros, and another five in mainland Spain for a further 100,000 euros
The director of the firm, Santiago Fuentes, confirmed at the time that "there are around 32,000 families affected", and insisted that it was all due to a "computer error", defending that at no time had they tried to "close and disappear."

According to the Tulip Research company, in charge of investigating fraudulent operations, in the case of the Arbistar 2.0 company, the volume of deception could reach 850 million euros.

The high return that is promised for investing in bitcoins is the best bait to attract the victims of so-called pyramid scams. On some occasions, experts in this type of topic point out that the most common profile of those affected is very close to that of an entrepreneur who decides to venture into investment and usually does so in a personal capacity, but with the serious drawback of not having expert advice.

Anonymity in transactions is also another element that causes a huge attraction towards this type of product, especially for those people linked to drug trafficking, or other types of activities related to organized crime, and whose main objective is not other than laundering your income.