In the past week, Lethean was contacted via Telegram by a gentleman named Chris Keren. Chris Keren requested a phone call with the founder(s) or leadership to discuss investing in Lethean. Great!
Mr. Keren wanted to hear about Lethean — what is its mission, how does it work, and where is the project going. We filled him in on all of this information and sent him our investment pitch deck. We also informed him that any ‘investment’ in Lethean would need to be funnelled properly through our non-profit company via standard bank wire (this detail is important).
We learned a little bit about Mr. Keren as well — he is a self made successful person who found his wealth by selling Bitcoin during the $20k peak and also has a family inheritance from his deceased father. He has investment experience with his partners in another successful crypto project in the past, but could not speak of this project due to a binding non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Mr. Keren liked what he heard, assured us he would speak with his partners and get back to us soon…
The next day, Mr. Keren reached out with great news: he and his partners wished to invest $400,000 USD into Lethean. Wow! We warned him that level of investment exceeded even the current market cap of Lethean, but he was not dissuaded. He believed in Lethean and wanted to inject capital so it could be greatly successful! There was one condition: Lethean would need to meet him in person in Switzerland for a face-to-face to have coffee, meet his lawyer and perform the asset transfer. Hmm… No problem, we can arrange that as we have team members in Europe that travel frequently.
Lethean began consulting team members on their thoughts toward this investment and arranging rough plans for how to manage and spend such an investment. It was concluded we had no use for such a large investment and could not back the liquidity with coins (considering the market cap). Mr. Keren was informed of this, and he was oddly dissuaded — he wanted to invest ALL 400k of his money! He understood our position and reviewed the overview of planned uses for the funds.
The next day, Mr. Keren reached out and indicated the proposal for fund expenditure looked good, but he would need help getting the funds into the bank to transfer to us. He could arrange for our investment figure via bank wire, but we needed to first sell him Bitcoin in exchange for his cash, because his lawyer takes payments in Bitcoin. His lawyer would then be facilitating the bank transfer of fiat from the lawyer’s account into our company’s bank account.
If you aren’t scratching your head yet, you should be!
And another fly in the ointment: Mr. Keren needed to call an audible on the meeting location. No longer could we meet in Switzerland as he had proposed a couple days earlier but now it needed to be Milan, Italy, due to Milan being his lawyer’s principle operating location!
We told Mr. Keren that we thought this was a very strange situation and did not understand why he could not just wire the funds himself.
Mr. Keren pointed out that the government would become aware of his sizeable profits “from selling Bitcoin” and then he would be liable for taxes. So, he wanted to give us cash in exchage for Bitcoin so he could avoid paying taxes on his “gains”. That’s right, he was prepared to exchange $400k in cash for $400k in Bitcoin, as long as we met in person…
We informed him that we would not take part in any tax evasion or money laundering schemes, to which he was bewildered, and denied attempts at these crimes.
But now, a cliff hanger. All the sudden, Mr. Keren went radio silent!
The list of excuses and bizarre explanations go on, so I’ll stop here and sum it up. If you haven’t put it all together yet, this is either a money laundering scam, or would have been a straight heist. We are writing this post to share this information about “Chris Keren”, assuming that is not a nom de guerre for his clandestine solicitation activities. You can find Mr. Keren from Ticino, Switzerland, a “Private Angel Investor” with a degree from the University of Oxford, on Linkedin here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-keren-1a1150187/ .
Mr. Keren has two lone endorsements by the same two people for his “skills” in blockchain, start-ups and biz strategy on LinkedIn: Arthur Volz (https://www.linkedin.com/in/arthur-volz-774382164/) and Alan Wood (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alan-wood-932190170/), who are probably associates or nom de guerres for this scam. The other two individuals interestingly also claim homage to Ticino, Switzerland.
You can also find him on WhatsApp at +41 76 700 13 34.
Crypto has no shortage of scams, and this one was interesting. A combination of social engineering and wire fraud were used to attempt to either steal funds or launder illicit capital.