Maltese Charity Falls Victim To Simple Bitcoin Scam
Scam artist had set up Malta's first Bitcoin ATM in Sliema last summer
A Romanian man who set up Malta’s first ever Bitcoin ATM last summer has been charged with cheating a charitable NGO out of €3,000, which the NGO had given to him to purchase Bitcoin on its behalf ahead of an upcoming voluntary trip to Kenya.
Alexandru Gabriel Cretu Torica has been ordered by the Small Claims Tribunal to repay the Lift Us Up charity €3,000 - which the charity had given him so as to purchase Bitcoin ahead of an upcoming voluntary trip to Kenya.
Torica hit the news last summer when he set up a Bitcoin ATM in Sliema, the first of its kind in Malta. However, Torica removed the ATM after only two months after complaining a malfunctioning error in the machine was forcing him to dip into his own pocket to purchase Bitcoin for clients. Torica’s former business partner also accused him of scamming him out of thousands of euro in Bitcoin.
In the Small Claims sitting, the charity’s representative Olena Leontyeva told the court the NGO had decided to invest in Bitcoin since the cryptocurrency could be redeemed all over the world, without having to carry cash or credit cards. The charity intended to buy Bitcoins in Malta, re-sell them in Kenya and use the money there.
Torica has been ordered to repay the charity €3,000
Leontyeva said the charity found out about Torica after reading a Times of Malta article, ostensibly the one reporting his Sliema ATM venture. Torica told her to deposit €3,000 into his BOV bank account, pledging to refund the equivalent in Bitcoin into her e-wallet. The charity complied but Torica reneged on his promise, ignored several reminder e-mails and Whatsapp messages, and eventually fled the island.
Torica appears to have a history of dodgy deals; a 2016 article in Slovenian news outlet delo.si reports that a certain Gabriel Cretu Torica had failed to turn up to court to answer to charges of damaging an ATM while attempting to install a skimming device.
However, Torica vehemently denied he was the same person mentioned in the article and accused the Slovenian news outlet of having wrongly used his photo in its original article.