According to Christianity Today, a cryptocurrency scam in the South Pacific preyed on Christian churches — and got their pastors to preach the scam to their congregations.
Two churches, the Samoa Worship Centre Christian Church and an Auckland branch of the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church, were targeted by the investors of OneCoin, with the result that several congregants invested in the scheme, losing some $2 million.
Moreover, while the church leaders who preached OneCoin claimed to be victims of the scam themselves, the Central Bank of Samoa (CBS) concluded that they were knowing participants and in on the fraud.
OneCoin, created in Bulgaria by Ruja Ignatova and Sebastian Greenwood in 2014, has been described by prosecutors as both a Ponzi and a pyramid scheme. Investors were given wild promises about the coin's value, despite the fact that there was no way to sell or transfer it, it was not accepted as currency anywhere, and it was not backed by a public blockchain that would allow security and oversight. Furthermore, Ignatova and Greenwood's network of shell companies is linked to alleged organized crime figures, like Hristofos Amanatidis, the Bulgarian "Cocaine King."
By 2015, financial authorities were warning OneCoin was a scam, and many countries began banning it. Ignatova and Greenwood both face charges of fraud, and Ignatova has not been seen since 2017.
While cryptocurrencies are not inherently a fraudulent operation, the market is in its infancy and dangerously underregulated, allowing scams and money laundering to run rampant throughout the sector.