Plus Token (PLUS) Scam – Anatomy of a Ponzi

What is Plus Token

“Plus Token” was a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme disguised as a high-yield investment program. Platform administrators closed down the operation in June of 2019, withdrawing over $3 Billion dollars in Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS and others) and leaving the message “sorry we have run”. This has lead to an international man-hunt for the platform administrators and creators of Plus Token.

PlusToken had a major following in Korea and China – especially among investors not familiar with cryptocurrencies. Plus token is a High Yield investment program which offered massive rewards on “investment” to unsuspecting victims in China and Korea. The scheme offered 9% to 18% monthly returns on investment – with larger investments getting more rewards. This type of is similar to other High Yield investment programs like “Bitconnect” which collapsed in January of 2018.

How did the Plus Token Ponzi it Work?

Plus Token is a classic ponzi scheme. It would make large promises of high returns to new investors, asking them for investments of large sums of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS and Litecoin. Investors were divided into 4 “tiers”, according to how much they invested and how many other referrals they can make.

How did it become so popular?

Plus Token relied heavily in conferences and meetups to promote the token. The following video is taken at a Plus token gathering

Payments stopped 30th of June 2019

Early signs of trouble in started surfacing in June of 2019 as users started reporting delays in fund withdraws. Some took to complain on Chinese social media site “Weibo” citing that they were unable to receive funds despite writing for 35 hours after submitting withdraw requests (Source Blocktempo).

Plus Token (PLUS) Scam – Anatomy of a Ponzi

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Initially Plus token blamed on “higher miner fees” for the withdraw delays. They claimed the sent transactions with 1 sat /byte, leading to long delays on the Bitcoin Blockchain. Plus token supporters avidly as their followers to “believe” in the system and disregard the “false information”.

Ring Leaders tried to convince the community that Plus Token will come back.

“Sorry We have run” – but not fast enough

As funds began moving, one of the transactions carried the know “Sorry, we have run” as a comment to the transaction. This really needs no explanation – organisers of the scam have initiated their exit strategy and fled the country.

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Arrests and extradition back to China

Law enforcement were able to arrest 6 of the suspects involved with PLUS token in Vanatu on the 29th of June 2019. They were detained and extradited back to China to face trial. Seems like they didn’t do enough research when fleeing the country.

JUST IN

as per sir @loomdart ‘s request, this thread is abt the on-going sells off made by PLUS Token, the biggest Chinese PONZI which scammed ~70K $BTC + ~ 800K $ETH

I mentioned it briefly in my last Coindesk oped but worth additional attention as it may cause further sells pic.twitter.com/uIjgrzwHET

— Dovey 以德服人 Wan 🗝 🦖 (@DoveyWan) August 14, 2019

Tip of the Iceberg

PlusToken can be seen as the tip of the Iceberg as there are many other very similar crypto ponzi schemes and scams. These include Cloud Token, S Block and other cloud “mining” tokens. At the end of the day, tokens that ‘guarentees’ high returns without a clear and audit-able business plan should generate red flags.

Laundering into exchanges

Luckily research is being down to track wallets known to be associated with Plus Token (8btc.com, @doveywan, @PeckShield). Work done by @PeckShield has shown funds moving from large wallets (~5000+ Bitcoin) to smaller wallets, and eventually into exchanges.

Token-Money-Laundering.jpg”>

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Map showing how Plus token funds are being laundered into Exchanges (work by @Peckshield)

Known amounts Scammed – List sum of BTC from identified and tracked addresses. Reports have been circulating that up to ~1% of the entire Bitcoin supply is involved in the scam. Currently more wallets are being added to this list.

  • 70000 BTC ($700,840,000 USD)
  • 789511 ETH ($142,111,980 USD)
  • 26299109 EOS ($92,046,881 USD)

Known Bitcoin Wallet addresses (Source 1):

  • 1MFgcyJ7ZNSknbTBRaih6zWDE6V1A64tRY (1865 BTC)
  • 3ETAVt2scYBFkBFksuNDk1i5tDLQ2c4zWR (4922 BTC)
  • 3EYsru4LUcN258sENYPu5Py3S5WnqxEcnE (3657 BTC)
  • 3HKs1g7u5a1uU4pC5HaNooYMbL1Lao4mv4 (3928 BTC)
  • 3ESakThMrdVVrbhhcpf9spicyjCg1Uk8Jm (3289 BTC)
  • 33LNws16Wfs12usWBNfa1MSX3YKY6Hdayf (3270 BTC)
  • 3HwY536CxznDxMjiRCFkpx5ykwJbJMZY4w (1725 BTC)
  • 35bCzX3RQEWdquqCPQkmdJdu2K4ut1roUZ (3676.86 BTC)
  • 31owhyALzzPEqUFwRbU5yQR4wNhYEjCiE5 (749.66 BTC)
  • 3PBN3MCpDcZKr7WdyY1ULq1NeGwLNjpkj7 (12000 BTC)
  • 14bwh6gmvol5ntwbvxqjkjdtzv4y5ebtvm (95228 BTC)
  • 33FKcwFhFBKWHh46Ksmxs3QBu8HV7h8QdF (37922 BTC)

EOS Addresses

Ethereum Addresses

  • 0xF4a2eFf88a408ff4c4550148151c33c93442619e

Plus Token Sell-offs Responsible for Bitcoin Price Drop?

Since as early as August 2019, Chinese cryptocurrency trading groups have already been circulating that due to the sheer amount involved, the scammers trying to dispose of the ill-gotten Bitcoin are pushing prices downward. And this price dump halted on 15th August 2019, coincidentally when Binance was suspended for trading because of system upgrade.

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Discussion on PlusToken sell-offs (Credit: 8BTC)

In late November 2019, this issue was again brought to the forefront when Twitter user Ergo reported having traced 187,000 BTC of the approximately 200,000 BTC attributed to PlusToken’s investors. As to these funds, Ergo found they were “shuffled” (albeit badly, if at all) and gradually sent to various cryptocurrency exchanges, primarily Huobi, for sale on the market.

I’ve been seeing a lot of Twitter FUD opining on miner capitulation in the last few days.

This got me thinking… could the selling by the PlusToken scammers have had an abnormal effect on this market cycle? pic.twitter.com/VZGjyQAxaF

— ∴ Ergo ∴ (@ErgoBTC) November 21, 2019

Ergo’s findings on the PlusToken funds

Ergo predicts that if all the “mixed” funds were sold from August to November 2019, it would average out to be around 1,300 BTC sold per day. This could lead people to think it would have an effect on Bitcoin prices, which has fallen from USD $9,981.41 on 1st August 2019 to USD $7,182.89 on 4th December 2019.

BTC-prices-Aug-to-Dec-2019.jpg”>

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Bitcoin prices from 1st Aug 2019 to 4th Dec 2019

Going forward, for the remaining 58,000 BTC or so Plus Token funds, based on Ergo’s estimates of the amounts sold daily, the sell-off would continue for another 1.5 to 2 months. So could this mean the Bitcoin markets will continue to dump for the next month or 2? Would this mean the market could recover by early 2020? We can only keep observing to find out.

Plus Token Sources and References

Chinese Sources and News Coverage

Special thanks to Matthew Graham for providing the videos and research!

https://3kemao.com/archives/124864?from=singlemessage&isappinstalled=0 https://www.ccvalue.cn/article/3952.html?from=singlemessage https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/EJLo-Rjjzz283FOCbzuLuA https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/HQxl5gKd0105tUIsQ0TQPg https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/rPtQAo0sf4P_LDM-8K0Z1g

Crypto Wallet Addresses

Chainnode Research: https://www.8btc.com/article/440193
BlockTempo: https://www.blocktempo.com/unable-to-withdarw-plustoken-is-crashing-down/
Plus Token Wallet Addresses: http://gscaijing.com/archives/21291
CoinTelegraph https://cointelegraph.com/news/3b-ponzi-scheme-is-now-allegedly-dumping-bitcoin-by-the-hundreds

Arrests / Man-hunt

SCMP: https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3016604/six-chinese-nationals-wanted-beijing-internet-scam-arrested

Plus Token sell-offs and Bitcoin price correlation?

8BTC: https://news.8btc.com/bitcoin-dip-allegedly-a-result-of-incessant-bitcoin-selloffs-from-3-billion-ponzi-scheme

Findings from Twitter user Ergo: https://twitter.com/ErgoBTC/status/1197496064854634496?s=20

Updated on 4th December 2019 to include new section- Plus Token Sell-offs Responsible for Bitcoin Price Drop?

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