What is the HyperVerse Cryptocurrency scam that has targeted victims the world over?

The HyperVerse scam was a cryptocurrency concept touted by serial crypto entrepreneur, Sam Lee and his co-founders. The concept lured investors with promises of huge returns on their initial investment – claims that have now been proven to be widely false, with the vast majority of investors experiencing losses of most, if not all of the funds that they deposited. The use of Sam Lee and his previously credible, cryptocurrency related public profile was a cleverly calculated move designed to instil trust in potential victims of what is now described as a prolific Ponzi scheme. It is believed that HyperVerse predominantly preyed on prospective victims in the UK, America and Australia, although there are victims the world over. In recent days, it has begun to emerge that the scheme also sought to target developing countries including Nepal andGhana, with many victims in these emerging economies being left so distraught at their losses that they became suicidal.

Whilst Lee was a founder of the scheme, he and other founders actively encouraged participants to recruit others into the scheme using the same false promises of returns, with members already in the scheme being offered financial rewards for convincing others to buy in too. When investors into the scheme then couldn’t get their money out of the platform, Lee was safely ensconced in the US with their funds, whereas those who had encouraged their friends and family to buy into the scheme were left to manage angry relations. The promises made by HyperVerse founders about the levels of return on investment that were “guaranteed” within a relatively short time frame were such that many members had taken out bank loans and remortgaged their own homes in their desperation to take part.

The scam was predominantly active and operational between June 2020 and November 2022, with the highest numbers of memberships to HyperVerse sold during this time. Lee and others used a series of false promises and misleading information about the scheme to lure people in at a time when many were financially conscious, or even actively struggling off the back of the economic impact of the global pandemic and ongoing war in Ukraine. With these and other factors having created a general environment of austerity in most countries around the world, it left many open to, or even desperately looking for, other ways to make money – especially schemes, like HyperVerse, that were being pitched as having guaranteed returns quickly.

At the beginning of February, it emerged that Sam Lee and one of his business partners, Brenda Chung, who jointly co-founded the HyperTech Group under which HyperVerse operated, had both been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in the US. Court documents relating to the charges against Lee and Chung describe HyperVerse as being a “pyramid and Ponzi scheme” that had been set up with the primary intention of fraudulently gaining control over investors’ funds. In a notable move, Chung has already entered a guilty plea for her part in the scheme. The legal allegations, which have been filed in both the criminal and civil courts as separate charges, estimate investors’ total HyperVerse losses at around £1.49billion ($1.8billion), and claims that there are potentially thousands of victims across the globe.

Whilst HyperVerse has become the most widely used terminology for the scam, the group has operated under a number of different names, including HyperFund, HyperTech, HyperOne and HyperNation. It is believed that there may also be other names, and researchers are now claiming to have found links between HyperVerse and other known cryptocurrency scams, such as Blockchain Global, further calling into question the intentions behind it’s having been set up in the first instance.