The story of a crypto scammer who ended up committing suicide | Economics and Business

Javier Biosca jumped from the fifth floor of a hotel in Estepona, Spain on Tuesday, November 22. His suicide ended an international brokerage career that was as short and erratic as the cryptocurrencies he managed.

Biosca leaves behind his wife and son. However, there is no sign of the private plane, mansions, and luxury cars that he collected over several years.

When he was laid to rest in the resort town of Estepona this Friday, only a small group of relatives attended the funeral. Apart from his wife and son, only his mother and a few friends came.

Considering the condition of the body, the coffin was kept closed.

From March 2019 to the fall of 2020, Biosca was the biggest cryptocurrency scammer in Spain. Throwing around words like “blockchain” and “digital wallet,” he managed to scam hundreds of clients, including lawyers, notaries, businessmen and dangerous Russian and Romanian mobsters based in Andalusia, in southern Spain. According to police sources consulted by EL PAÍS, each person he interacted with lost at least 50,000 euros ($52,000) in his pyramid scheme.

Biosca was born in Barcelona 50 years ago. He lived there until 2001, when he fell in love with Paloma Gallardo, a hairdresser from the state of Toledo. They set up home together in Torrijos—a town of fewer than 10,000—where he tried to set up a hardware store. Shortly after, the couple moved to the nearby city of Fuensalida, where Biosca became a freelance website designer. He began developing a computer program that allowed him to invest in bitcoin and execute thousands of transactions simultaneously to buy and sell the coins.

In 2019, Biosca founded the Algorithms Group in London – a firm dedicated to attracting small investors who want to move into the cryptocurrency market. A group of 19 friends fell for his scam first. He suggested investing in three types of cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin – the latter two being alternatives to bitcoin, the star cryptocurrency.

Biosca – reportedly an uncharismatic, quiet fellow – presented himself as a digital currency expert, able to increase the investment by 20% to 25% every week. When his firm launched in the summer of 2019, one bitcoin was worth about $10,000.

Hand in hand with his wife, who was described by Emilia Ceballos, who represents many of those affected by the scam, as “an ambitious and manipulative person who made Javier do what he wanted”, Biosca managed to grow the operation. He employed four public relations professionals who attracted wealthy clients from all over Spain. In the first months, their employees were paid on time and their clients saw their digital portfolios grow.

But the cryptocurrency boom didn’t last forever. Eventually, all three of the digital currencies in which Biosca had invested heavily began to depreciate at a rate faster than their ability to attract new customers. A year after the creation of the Algorithms Group, salaries began to lag. And then commissions fell: 15% to 10%, then to 8%.

By the end of 2020, the Algorithms Group stopped paying revenue to its clients. Around that time, the value of bitcoin had fallen to about $5,700. The decline will only continue.

In Torrijos—a town centered around a baroque church with Spanish flags on every balcony—no one remembers Javier Biosca or has much interest in cryptocurrency. The local economy is still old, dependent on animal husbandry and winemaking. The only visible international elements are Moroccan expats selling goods on the streets and a Swiss cafe selling coffee in front of City Hall. An employee at a hardware store doesn’t remember any past owners who became millionaires.

But Biosca and his family are better remembered in southern Spain. A few months after starting to earn money, the husband, wife and son moved into a magnificent mansion in Marbella. They paid $15,000 a month in rent, installed four safes and rented several luxury cars. Biosca employed a group of bodyguards, including ex-Spanish and Colombian police officers, to protect its wealthy guests, creating sensational parties along the Costa del Sol.

Appearance is very important in the world of cryptocurrencies. Biosca even went so far as to inquire about acquiring another bank in Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau.

In March 2021, several customers of Biosca filed a lawsuit after realizing they had been defrauded. Judge Santiago Pedraz issued a search and arrest warrant against Biosca for fraud, money laundering, forgery and operating a criminal organization.

Spanish police caught him four months later during a routine traffic stop in Nerja. He remained in prison for eight months until March 2022, when a mystery surety posted 1 million euros ($1.04 million) bail.

By the time he was released from prison, Biosca had lost more than 40 pounds. During his imprisonment, he was severely beaten by other prisoners. According to two close friends, the guarantor was actually a group of crooks. When they realized he couldn’t get his money, they revoked his bail and the National Court ordered Bioska to return to prison.

“He was terrified of going back to prison or being shot in the street,” said a person close to Biosca. The National Court accused him of fraud in the amount of 815 million euros ($848 million). Meanwhile, the most dangerous mafias to which he owed money were already on his trail.

“He was worried that the Russian and Bulgarian gangsters he had defrauded were going to kill him,” explains Ceballos, a lawyer who represents law-abiding individuals defrauded by Biosca. “We believe in it [the money] still in possession of his wife and son. He was the one who controlled the codes and had access to the money,” insists the lawyer.

He also accused Luis Monje, who is under investigation, of being the lead singer of Biosca.

Monje claims that he was just another victim of fraud. He told EL PAÍS by phone from Seville that he only contacted Biosca because he was trying to recover 1.5 million euros stolen from him in a crypto scam.

“The victim’s lawyer does not mention that he also invested 50,000 euros in bitcoin cash… The National Court itself asked him to clarify the origin of the money,” he adds.

Police sources consulted by EL PAÍS confirm that Monje was not in Estepona on the day of Biosca’s death. However, they note that a few hours before Bioska’s suicide, Monje met with local criminals. Whether or not the scammer told him about any threats they received remains a mystery… as big a mystery as where all the money went.

Source link