Australian Bitcoin exchange igot Pty. Ltd. has ceased trading with users, reporting they are unable to obtain withdrawals from the site and that the company is not responding to support tickets.
As of the time of writing, igot has ceased all public communications for over one week and have not responded to users or to correspondence from this publication; there are also complaints going back months with users reporting ongoing issues with the company.
Allegedly founded in 2013, igot offered a Bitcoin exchange service covering some 40 different countries, including the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin, remittance services, futures trading and merchant services; outside of the basic buy/sell exchange service, it’s unclear whether the company actually signed up merchants and provided futures trading, despite advertising those services as being available.
Background on the company is a bit all over the place: it is referred to as an Australia company, and the company is registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC/ABN: 600 161 233) in Melbourne in June 2014, some 12 months after it claimed to have been founded.
The contact address the company provides in Australia is P.O BOX 628, Oaklands Park, South Australia, a middle class suburb of Adelaide, with “offices” (we use the phrase lightly) listed in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Kowloon, Hong Kong; Singapore and Bangalore, India.
Research by SiliconANGLE of the addresses provided by the company reveal they are all virtual offices, except one, and therefore not legitimate offices for the company. List as follows:
- Singapore: 51 Goldhill Plaza is the address of 3E Accounting- Business services, which along with company registration and accounting services, also provide virtual office space
- Hong Kong: Suite 1101, 11/F, Supreme House, 2A, Hart Avenue, TST, Kowloon is the registered address of KRSNA Group, which offers local business registration and a registered address in Hong Kong for that purpose
- Slovenia: for Parmova ulica 53, 1000 Ljubljana we were unable to ascertain that it was an address for a company that offers either a registered address or virtual office as we don’t speak Slovenian, but a search of Google finds that there are hundreds of companies registered at the same address, meaning that it’s odds on a front address
The Indian connection
Tracing the roots of igot leads us to India, and the only possible office that may be legitimate, the Bangalore Office at 2nd floor, 3rd Cross, 4th Main, Chamrajpet, Bangalore, which is listed as belonging to one Indian registered company called I Got Tech Solutions Pvt. Ltd.; of note I Got Tech Solutions and igot also use the same registered Indian company number U72900KA2012PTC061947, confirming that they are one in the same company (despite the obvious igot being an abbreviation of I Got Tech).
As we’re unable to obtain the ownership documents for igot in Australia we can’t 100 percent confirm, but it’s highly likely that igot is simply a front for I Got Tech Solutions.
So what does I Got Tech Solutions do? Well according to their LinkedIn page they offer search engine optimization (SEO) services, and on other pages are simply listed as providing “IT services.”
Rick Day and the “team”
Having traced the origins of the company structure, next stop was to take a look at Founder and Chief Executive Officer Rick Day and his so-called team as listed on the igot website (see picture).
The first thing you learn about Day is that he does give the odd interview, having appeared on YouTube podcasts, in news publications and blogs, but where it gets interesting: prior to igot Day doesn’t appear to exist, and indeed outside of his Bitcoin activities he doesn’t even appear to exist on social media.
igot’s LinkedIn page makes no mention of him, and none of his interviews mention his past either; it’s as if the name Rick Day might be made up and that’s what we think is a strong possibility, or alternatively somewhere along the line he’s legally changed his name; in a video interview with Follow The Coin it’s clear that not only is Day Indian by ancestry, he’s Indian by birth based on his accent, and there are not a lot of Indian kids born “Rick Day” in India (to be precise, there are none) let alone among those of Indian heritage outside the country.
The rest of the alleged “team” at igot (Day has claimed the company employs 12 people) are shown as eight photographs on the igot about page; outside of the picture of Day we were able to identify three other people shown via reverse image search; Vadym Karpenko and Igor Silchin, Chief Executive Officer and Project Manager respectively for an Eastern European web development firm called Gera-IT, and Nhial Majok, a Senior Storage Administrator – TSM at IBM Australia.
We can’t be sure what relationship these three have with Day and igot, but there are some hints: Karpenko and Silchin’s firm lists on their project page that they are working on a Bitcoin exchange platform, although it appears more likely that the company had been outsourced to provide the IT for the igot setup versus being direct employees.
Majok lists in his bio that he is “deeply interested in cryptocurrencies as they relate to the third world countries,” and could potentially be the Australian link in the potential igot scam.
There are no names listed for the other photos listed on the igot’s site, although there are two names listed on their LinkedIn page: Amit Taneja who claimed to be the Director – Business Development and lives in Adelaide, and Karun Abhinav Raja, who claims to be working for the company in a digital marketing role out of Dubai.
The scam allegations
Scam allegations, culminating in the businesses closing, go back to the beginning of 2015, where Cryptocoin Talk notes Reddit users are having troubles with withdrawals from the company.
Business though seemed to continue for igot, with fresh reports in March on Bitcointalk from a user, again, having problems with obtaining withdrawals from the company.
In May, another user on Bitcointalk suggests that the company is either an outright scam or has run out of money after failing to withdraw $60,000 from the exchange.
The problems and complaints continued to increase through to the end of July when one site, The Mirkle, out and out calls the site a scam and lists multiple users who have been ripped off; founder Rick Day responds to the allegations with an interview at Coindesk denying that igot was scamming users, but disturbingly added that they were having problems with fraudulent transactions and that the service had been subject to a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS).
By mid-August the wheels were falling off, with multiple users at Reddit all reporting the same issue: a complete inability to withdraw funds from the exchange; u/Darkzen67 sums it up well August 23rd when he presents evidence of trying to withdraw funds from the service for over one month, with no reply on support tickets.
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, igot literally ceased communicating publicly August 19th on their Twitter account and earlier on their Facebook account, and attempts to contact the site by SiliconANGLE have gone unanswered.
Where to now
While we can’t with 100 percent certainty say that igot has ceased trading permanently versus temporarily (that they’re not currently processing business nor responding to customers is proven), if it If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck, and in this application of the duck test, igot is the duck.
Given the number of complaints about and figures mentioned we’d give igot baby Mt Gox status: probably somewhere around the $1 million mark (give or take) missing at this stage, but that figure could increase rapidly given igot also claimed to be the biggest Bitcoin exchange servicing the United Arab Eremites and India as well.
Our recommendation to all affected igot users is to report the company to authorities, but particularly those in Australia: police, state-based consumer affairs departments, the ACCC and ASIC because the company ostensibly undertook business in Australia and hence is covered by Australian law, which unlike some of the more exotic places these scams take place, provides adequate legal protections and recourse in the event of these things occurring.
Image via igot
Duncan is a co-founder of VC funded media company B5Media and founder of news site The Inquisitr, and was a senior writer at TechCrunch in its earlier days.
Tips? Press releases? Intersting startup? email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Duncan on Twitter @duncanriley