Crypto in Church? New Zealand Probes Second Church Over OneCoin Ponzi Scheme

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is investigating another church (probably the second) based in Auckland for allegedly having links to the OneCoin scheme, a multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency which has been labeled a scam.

The DIA reportedly revealed in a statement that investigations are open for the Auckland-based Samoa Worship Centre, over the OneCoin project. As part of this, the department already gathered “information on OneCoin,” but said it wasn’t the main objective for the investigation.

OneCoin representatives, according to investors and experts, mostly focused their target on vulnerable members of the Samoan community in Auckland, New Zealand, selling cryptocurrency worth tens of thousands of dollars to victims.

As Coinfomania reported in April 2019, two other churches, the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (SISDAC) and Samoa Worship Center, were used by the project’s representatives to pitch their scheme to Samoans.

The Samoa authorities imposed a ban to prevent residents from engaging in any transaction on OneCoin amid increasing global concerns on the project; however, through the churches, several members, including the ministers and public, gave in to the project which promised massive returns within the short-term.

Samoa’s Central Bank and police are also investigating both SISDAC and the Worship Centre for money-laundering. However, Avele Tanielu, a pastor with the Worship Centre in Auckland, denied the church was linked to the Ponzi Scheme.

While the government claimed the two churches were used to funnel millions of dollars worth of OneCoin from New Zealand to Samoa, where the cryptocurrency is prohibited, the churches, on the other hand, denied this, saying OneCoin representatives only deceived them. 

SISDAC said it was cooperating with investigations, and it wasn’t engaged in any money laundering act. In May 2019, Apia-based Worship Centre representative denied wrongdoing, saying the church was exploring legal action against the Samoan government.

OneCoin, however, denies being at fault, too, saying it has no responsibility for its so-called “independent contractors” that sell its product.

In this Bitcoin era where scams have become prevalent, traders and investors, especially beginners, need to be cautious and research any cryptocurrency project before investing their funds.

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