It’s a common pattern: a Ponzi or pyramid scheme gains momentum, drawing in hundreds or even thousands of people and amassing significant funds before ultimately collapsing.
Unfortunately, those who were deceived often suffer in silence as those who avoided the scheme mock them. Oh, we mock the hell out of them, as we should. We mostly do it for our own pleasure, but some of it serves as a lesson to prevent them from being deceived by such schemes in the future.
Eventually, the incident fades from public memory, only to be replaced by a new Ponzi scheme and the cycle repeats.
Let’s not do that with E-creator. This time around, some infighting led to some inside information leaking out. Meaning we do have a little information to go on. What’s the story?
Zhao, the E-creator founder who tried to run away with US$1m was arrested. Zhao was caught at the airport with an already stamped passport as he looked to make his escape. Also arrested were Justin Kuchekenya and Trymore Tapfumaneyi, who were more visible back when the Ponzi still operated.
Zhao (centre) arriving at Harare Magistrates Court. Source: Herald
After ‘debriefing sessions’ with the police our scammers revealed that there are 2 more co-conspirators that are still at large. We already knew of Abraham Mutambu, who took on some interviews promoting the scam. We didn’t know about…
Billy Thomas Seydou
He was known simply as Thomas on the streets. The police say he was a co-conspirator.
Conversations we have had with people who were involved with E-creator suggest he may actually have been the creator. They claim that he hired Zhao to run his business whilst he oversaw everything from China.
Word is, Zhao attempted to defraud Thomas and was successful in doing so. Upon discovering this betrayal, Thomas exposed Zhao’s identity by sharing his name and picture, which ultimately led to his arrest.
Apparently, this Thomas fellow who outed Zhao is also responsible for outing other people on E-creator’s Facebook page.
William Chui and Nyasha Mudzamba
Thomas, or whoever was posting on Facebook claims William and Nyasha were working with Zhao in some capacity. Thomas shared a screenshot of a text exchange in which he said to William, “I know this guy contact you for USDT for good percentage.”
USDT is a stablecoin, which means it’s a cryptocurrency whose value is tied to the USD. Stablecoins are most popular when crypto traders want to move fiat currencies into crypto or vice versa.
thousands millions coming in on EcoCash and it makes sense that they tried to convert it to crypto before moving it out of the country. Which is where William and Nyasha come in.
These guys are crypto traders and so the fact that Thomas would claim that Zhao approached them looking to buy crypto makes sense. We do know that some of the money was withdrawn from EcoCash agents but there’s good reason to believe that before that whole fiasco, some of it was moved using crypto.
We reached out to these two fellows to hear their side of the story.
Willaim says “I buy and sell cryptocurrency. I have never dealt with E-creator. I have dealt with a number of clients. However, after looking at the messages that were shared on the E-creator page, it is probable that there might be a client who is disgruntled for a transaction that went south…”
Nyasha says he doesn’t even know what’s going on. He says he saw that he had been implicated on Facebook but doesn’t understand why that is. He says whoever posted those screenshots is mistaken and has the wrong information.
The other people implicated
Thomas exposed other individuals on Facebook, but their connection to E-creator and its collapse remains unclear. He just put out their names, phone numbers and dollar amounts. Presumably saying they owed that much to E-creator when it folded.
We reached out to these people and every single one of them said they had no idea what we were talking about. None of them admitted to ever investing in E-creator, let alone even being in a position to owe money to the Ponzi scheme.
Some said they did not even know about E-creator, and some said they knew about it but never invested.
Some of them were willing to show us EcoCash statements from February when E-creator launched to date to show that they never received such amounts at any point.
This makes it interesting. Could it be that some of Thomas’ information is inaccurate and he is mistaken on the involvement of these people? Could it be some of these people were involved and some weren’t?
It’s hard to know what’s what because we wouldn’t expect anyone to confess to being involved and so we take all the statements all these people gave us with a grain of salt.
Zhao and a few other directors are behind bars and will get their day in court and so we will get some answers in due time. Will we recover the $1m? Probably not but some fraction of it may be recovered.
We know some of the top guys in the scheme but what role did the people exposed by Thomas (or whoever) on Facebook play? It’s his word against theirs and we are not about to start believing what Thomas has to say. Neither can we take the word of people who have every incentive to lie.
If the people are telling the truth, we would have questions on just how their numbers came to be used without their knowledge. It would mean either Thomas is grossly mistaken or EcoCash has some weaknesses to plug. We shall explore that next.