A hacker collective calling itself Anonymous ZA has released details about Mirror Trading International (MTI), including the structure of its multilevel referral marketing scheme.
The leaked data shows that a man named Clynton Marks occupies two of the topmost positions of MTI’s multilevel network marketing programme, and not the organisation’s founder and CEO, Johann Steynberg.
MTI has disputed the accuracy of the leak, saying that the information is incorrect, was obtained illegally, and is “inaccurate at best”.
MTI is a private company registered in South Africa which describes itself as a bitcoin-based trading pool that grows your investment daily by automatically trading forex with “advanced digital software and artificial intelligence”.
According to MTI, its referral programme is optional and the company does not rely on member growth to remain sustainable.
The company said it generates daily profits from its automated trading activities and has seen an average return of 0.5% per day.
MTI attracted the attention of international regulators, and South Africa’s own Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) said it was investigating the company.
According to the FSCA, the current business model of MTI requires it to be in possession of a financial service provider licence, which the company has stated it does not have.
The FSCA also raised concerns about MTI’s finances. It claims to have more than R2.9 billion in clients’ funds in trading accounts, but the FSCA has not been able to conclusively confirm that the funds exist.
“Moreover, the returns on the investments claimed by MTI seems far-fetched and unrealistic,” the FSCA said.
The FSCA recommended that MTI clients request refunds into their own accounts as soon as possible.
The Texas State Securities Board has also issued an emergency cease-and-desist order against MTI and accused it of perpetrating fraud through an illegal international multilevel marketing programme.
Canada’s Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) has placed MTI on its list of illegal online platforms, issuing a warning that MTI illegally solicits investors.
The people behind Mirror Trading International
Anonymous ZA said that it discovered several security vulnerabilities in the online systems of MTI, including one where any logged-in user could access the details of any other user.
It exploited this vulnerability to extract information about the inner workings of the scheme.
According to MTI and Anonymous ZA, this vulnerability has since been patched.
Anonymous ZA said it extracted all of the data from MTI’s online systems hosted at mymticlub.com, and published an anonymised copy of the data on the dark web at a site it called MTILeaks.
In addition to revealing the full names, usernames, email addresses, bitcoin balances, and bonus earnings linked to every account, the dataset published by Anonymous ZA also allowed the structure of MTI’s multi-level marketing scheme to be mapped.
The chart below provides an overview of some of the major initial investors in the Mirror Trading International scheme.
MTI management structure
Anonymous ZA stated that several key figures behind MTI, including certain members of its management team, have been linked to previous failed get-rich-quick schemes.
Earlier this year, MTI announced that the following people were interviewed and appointed to its management team:
- Johann Steynberg — Founder, CEO, Head of Technical and Research and Development Department
- Clynton Marks — Head of Referral Program and Members
- Charles Ward — Head of Strategy Implementation
- Monica Coetzee — Head of Corporate Services
- Romano Samuel — Head of Member Support
- Cheri Marks — Head of Communications and Marketing
- Vincent “Vince” Ward — Head of International Expansion
- Leonard Gray — Head of Legal
According to Anonymous ZA, Cheri Marks and Clynton Marks were founders of the cryptocurrency trading platform BTC Global, which is investigated by the Hawks for being a scam.
Anonymous ZA said that the Marks’ were also involved with the MMM (Get Help/Send Help) scheme and several smaller schemes before that.
The data shows that Clynton Marks has two accounts under his name at the topmost levels of MTI’s network marketing structure. MTI’s founder and CEO, Johann Steynberg, is “downline” of Marks.
Anonymous ZA stated that Marks is receiving millions of rands from MTI every month.
Clynton Marks’s accounts also appear in the list of the those which have withdrawn the most money from the scheme.
Another prominent account in the top tier of MTI belongs to Johan van Wyk, the former leader of Solid Rock Church who reportedly died in July of this year.
Accounts linked to the email address of Ignatius Bell, and which bears the names or initials of Ignatius and his brother Marinus Bell, appear several times in the list of top bitcoin withdrawers. The Bell brothers are connected to the Spirit Word church in Stilfontein.
Another top player and Founder Pool member in MTI is Willie Breedt. Based on the email address that appears for his account in the MTILeaks, it seems he is the same man who was the CEO of the now-defunct VaultAge Solutions.
According to the MTILeaks, Breedt opened his MTI account using a Gmail address that was also used in the ticketing system for the 2017 launch of Thrive International, another get-rich-quick scheme. The launch was held at Solid Rock Church.
Breedt also speaks about Thrive International in videos on YouTube dating back to 2017. These videos mention Clynton Marks and Johan van Wyk as members of the global team of Thrive International.
News24 reported earlier this year that Breedt is accused of scamming around 2,000 investors out of an estimated R227 million through VaultAge.
Feedback from MTI and its management team
MyBroadband asked MTI and its management team about the Anonymous ZA leak and the allegations against them.
MTI declined to answer questions regarding the scepticism around its profits, except to say that the information obtained by Anonymous ZA was inaccurate.
Clynton Marks and Johann Steynberg declined to comment on why the MTILeaks show that Marks has two accounts in the topmost layer of the MTI multi-level marketing scheme.
Marks also declined to comment on his earnings from the scheme, and pointed to an MTI holding statement which said that the data published by Anonymous ZA is “inaccurate at best”.
Initially, MTI declined to comment on whether the scheme allowed members to have multiple accounts.
However, Marks’ partner and the head of communications and marketing for MTI, Cheri Marks, confirmed on Facebook that it is against the rules of MTI for members to have multiple accounts (Facebook comments have been hidden, see screenshot).
She also said that just because Clynton Marks’s email address was used to open multiple accounts, that does not mean both accounts are in his name.
Clynton and Cheri Marks declined to comment on their involvement in BTC Global.
Ignatius Bell did not respond by the time of publication. There was also no response from Johan van Wyk’s email address. Gmail bounced our email to Willie Breedt with an error message saying that his account is over quota (out of storage).
MTI statements to MyBroadband
MyBroadband asked each member of the MTI management team to confirm or refute the accuracy of the data published in the MTILeaks regarding their individual accounts.
The MTI management team all sent a standard response stating that the information is incorrect, illegally obtained, and “inaccurate at best”.
They also pre-emptively refused to grant permission to publish their individual financial information.
Charles Ward sent a statement with slightly different wording in the final paragraph. Both versions of the statement are included below.