A group of investors who were victims of a bitcoin scam seeks, in court, the reimbursement of R$ 7 billion from the company Atlas Quantum, according to a public civil action proposed by IPGE (Institute for the Protection and Management of Entrepreneurship).
In the process, the group accuses the company of several irregularities, including holding 15,200 bitcoins and 34,800 cryptodollars from its customers. Altogether, it is estimated that there are 39,000 customers in Brazil and 200,000 worldwide. Updated, the values would reach R$ 4 billion.
The action also asks for 40 minimum wages as compensation to each of those who were injured, in addition to collective social and moral damages since 2019, when Atlas Quantum stopped paying its customers.
The process, filed at the end of July 2022 in the São Paulo Court, has not yet had a decision. Parallel to it, there are criminal lawsuits in the Federal Court against the company, 700 cases in the TJ-SP (Court of Justice of São Paulo) and investigations in the Civil Police of São Paulo, in the Federal Police, in SP, and in the CVM (Commission of Mobile values). None of them, however, came to a conclusion.
According to lawyer Jorge Calazans, from Calazans Vieira Dias Advogados, a specialist in the defense of victims of financial fraud and responsible for the public civil action, the request is for the owner of the company to return everything that was captured by him with the investors.
The lawsuit involves other companies linked to Atlas and asks for the liability of associates to the owner who may have benefited illegally with the victims’ money.
Sought since the last 5th, Atlas Quantum did not respond to the emails of the report and the telephones informed on the internet do not work. The law firm that assists the company in court declined to comment.
According to Calazans, in addition to crimes against the financial system —investigated by the police and which are also running in court—there is also the accusation of a financial pyramid.
“What happened was a false advertisement of an investment that generates income, but it was nothing more than the entry of new people who supported the older ones in the scheme”, he says, referring to the fact that Atlas Quantum used the money of new customers to pay old investors.
How Atlas Quantum worked
Atlas Quantum presented itself in the market as an arbitrage company (buying and selling bitcoins) through a unique robot called quantum. Customers were taken in by investors who were already in the company or were attracted by advertisements on national television, in large communication companies.
New investors could take the cryptocurrencies they already had or pay amounts in reais; there was also the possibility of buying cryptocurrencies from companies indicated by Atlas, which would be linked to it. In the contracts, customers were offered a return of 1% to 6% of the amount invested.
In the beginning, the company normally paid its customers after carrying out operations that made it profitable. Timely payments would be sustained with the entry of new investors, as in a financial pyramid scheme. When fewer investors came in, Atlas Quantum’s payments to those already investing would have started to fail.
The fall would have occurred after the CVM (Securities Commission) pointed out irregularities and prohibited movements, leading to mass withdrawal requests. Since 2019, there would have been no remuneration of clients or the return of the amounts that had been invested.
Customers have been trying to receive values for three years
Invited by a friend, university professor Evandro Carlos Teruel, 48, from the computer science area, started investing in Altas Quantum in 2018. He says that, at the time, he invested 1.57 bitcoin, which are now worth about R$194 thousand.
“I invested values in bitcoin and the return was around 7% per month, above most financial market options, but nothing outside of real possibilities”, he says.
According to him, initially, Atlas made payments every month, without fail. With the growth of the cryptocurrency market in 2019, and with the investment in massive TV advertising, there was an increase in customers, but then payments started to fail.
In August 2019, Atlas reportedly stopped paying investors for good. In the process, the CVM found signs of irregularities and prohibited new business. To this day, customers try to receive.
Teruel, who also has an investment channel on social networks, gathered 580 victims of the company. He went to the Judiciary and filed a complaint with the Federal Police. “Everything I did with the 580 people was on the criminal side, so that those responsible are criminally punished, that is, prosecuted and arrested.”
The process opened in 2019 had the first response in April this year. The Federal Public Ministry gave the Federal Police 120 days to investigate the case and present a report. The deadline expires this week, but nothing has been reported so far.
“In my view, after three years, the only chance we will receive is if all those responsible are exposed by the Federal Police investigations and are arrested. Arrested, I believe they will want to return the money to get out of jail.”
Sought after, the Civil Police of São Paulo reported that there is a police investigation initiated by the 4th Precinct of the Cyber Crimes Division, of the DEIC (State Department of Criminal Investigations).
According to the note, the investigations began in June 2021, after the division became aware of the facts through the Public Ministry. “Diligences continue with the hearing of victims and with searches for elements that help in the location of the suspects”, says the text.
The Federal Police said it does not comment on “possible investigations in progress”.
The CVM stated, in a note, that it does not comment on ongoing cases and said it is attentive to what is happening in the cryptocurrency sector, but can only act as far as it “is appropriate with regard to the capital market”.
The municipality also said that it is preparing a document with recommendations for the sector, with the intention of reducing irregularities. “It is not, at least for the time being, a regulation, given that there is currently no legal provision. The document will have a character of recommendation and guidance to the market”, says the text of the body.