A story about fraud, failure, and flight from Cambodia.
The man himself is named Abdul: family name US’SUTTERI, given name ABDURRAHMAN. He is currently in Cambodian prison for possession of guns. The entire scam was run from inside the jail, where he was able to get hold of a smart phone. His incarceration was unknown to us at the time of the transaction.
CryptoAsia is a self-funded cryptocurrency startup based in Phnom Penh. Launched in early 2017, we aimed to transform our many years of experience in Bitcoin exchange services into a formal business entity.
Our mission was to introduce Cambodia to the ideals embodied by cryptocurrency: financial sovereignty, decentralization, privacy & more. We would achieve this by introducing a Bitcoin payment solution for Cambodian merchants. We wanted to increase adoption of Bitcoin and prove its importance as a payment method.
Unfortunately, the Bitcoin ecosystem changed course in 2017. Digital currencies became the tool of opportunists, scammers, phony “investors” and “traders,” ponzi schemers and charlatans. The influx of new users sent transaction fees skyrocketing and the Bitcoin network couldn’t adapt. Bitcoin became impractical as an everyday payment method. Our merchant Bitcoin payment gateway for Cambodia had to be shelved, so we refocused our efforts on the Bitcoin exchange business. In spite of repeated failure to launch an online exchange platform, our peer-to-peer trades kept us profitable.
Perhaps nowhere was the shift in Bitcoin’s user base felt more strongly than in Cambodia. Being the most visible exchange service in Cambodia gave us a unique perspective on exactly how toxic the Bitcoin world had become. We were met with a relentless parade of traders and schemers who couldn’t care less about the virtues of Bitcoin. It taxed our soul, but we kept trying.
It was only a matter of time before we were burned.
It’s all over
On July 25th, 2019, one of our customers scammed a 3rd party. This 3rd party was completely unknown to us at the time, but they had regularly worked together in a business entirely unrelated to ours.
Executing what’s called a man-in-the-middle scam, the scammer (our former customer) allegedly defrauded the victim out of $10,000. As a result, the victim sued us. We did nothing wrong, but we were targeted by the victim as retribution.
For our tiny, completely self-funded startup, $10,000 was enough to destroy more than our business. Although we were profitable, we have many dependents and expenses. Our profits are reinvested in our several businesses, making us illiquid.
As a result, everything we’ve done in Cambodia has been destroyed. Our business is shuttered and our revenue stream is finished. The livelihoods of our family and the families of those we employ have been affected as well. The sadness and frustration we’ve experienced cannot be understated.