I was trying to download a video from Facebook when a new tab suddenly popped open on my browser. I was going to shut it in my usual style when the headline drew my attention.
“SPECIAL REPORT: Aliko Dangote’s Latest Investment Has Experts in Awe And Big Banks Terrified.”
Curious, I decided to pause and read through the story. I was captivated all through and eager to see the end of it. The writer it seemed was promoting a certain product ‘Bitcoin Prime’, which the story claimed had been endorsed by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote as “a wealth loophole” in a live interview.
What was wrong with the report?
The first obvious thing about this report was that there was no actual byline. This means the article did not have an author. How would you expect to believe something of that magnitude when the writer could not even reveal his/her name? It is possible that laypersons would however have missed this point.
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The second red flag was that the article said that Dangote had announced his supposed new money-making machine in a live interview with Aliyu Baba Barau on NTA news, and had even dared to show the interviewer how much money he was making with the ‘wealth loophole that can transform anyone into a millionaire within 3-4 months.”
Now, I am not an ardent viewer of NTA but I follow Aliko Dangote, and I have watched countless interviews where he was featured. So, I knew for sure that this was not the kind of statement the billionaire would ever make in public. At this point, it was not about whether Bitcoin Prime was real or not, for me, it was a question of how true the report was.
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I went on a search immediately and saw that the last episode of Moment of thoughts on NTA was aired in late 2019.
The bigger alarm for me was the subheading ‘Channels Exclusive with Aliko Dangote’, where the writer of the article tried to imply that he was a staff of Channels TV himself. He claimed that they had decided to put the billionaire’s suggestion to test before putting out the story, and a certain ‘Emmanuel Ake’ had registered on Bitcoin Prime with N108,000 with a cash-back guarantee from the agent if he lost any money. He claimed that he made N1.9 million in pure profits by the end of the week, and courtesy of his success story, everyone in Channels TV had now signed up on Bitcoin Prime.
The attached Paycheque? That in itself was another brow raiser.
The cheque had the Royal Bank of Scotland Plc on it, but maybe the weirdest part was that the Scottish bank would issue a cheque in naira. The final giveaway on it was the date, 20-08-2019.
Wait a moment, the writer claimed Dangote came on the live interview in March 2021, and the Channels TV staff gave it a try afterwards? How come he had a paycheque that goes as far back as 2019?
If you even check further, you will find that Emmanuel Ake is the name of a Kenyan former footballer who played as a forward.
Another point to note was that every single time I visited the website in the last two weeks, there was a banner reading “this is your last chance to enter the Bitcoin prime. All positions expected to fill up in 25 minutes,” and the countdown began, creating a sense of urgency that one could be missing. This in itself was suspicious.
If I had only 25 minutes to join two weeks ago, I expected the opening to be closed by now.
All the comments and testimonials on the page also remained ever-fresh. At every time I visited this page, the last comment was only 12 minutes ago, and the commenter had earned over N800,000. The date of the supposed interview also changed repeatedly to a more recent date.
A lot of the testimonials had names and pictures to make them look real. For me, there were lots of names that did not match the pictures; like a Chinwe Azikiwe who looked more Kenyan than Nigerian, and a Kingsley Oni, whose picture can be found on countless job adverts sites. Most of the pictures there were the kind that would pop up on a google image search. Maybe not noticeable on first sight, but a closer look should show this.
I could not understand why Channels TV would stake its reputation on a report like that, so I copied out the link from my browser into an empty word document. Besides filling an entire A5 page, the link had no mention of Channels TV.
So back to the Header/Banner of the page which had more similarities than differences with the real Channels TV page. The colours, logo and menu were all the same, except that the scam site had an almost unnoticeable ‘CNNEWS’ replacing ‘CHANNELS’ inside the Africa map on the logo.
Obviously, this was just a promotional site where innocent persons would be hooked and redirected to the actual page where they sign up and make deposits.
Signing up is free but as soon as you do this, you will find that you can only start doing any trade when you send between €250 to €10,000 to a Broker’s account which you will not even be able to choose. Definitely not your regular ‘invest 20k and get 60k in 45 minutes’ kind of scammer.
Now, one has to be careful of the demo mode offer, as actual reviews seen on YouTube show that it uses fictitious prices and generates profits that it would never achieve in real trading – a trick to convince people that it is a profitable program. Once you make deposits with any of the brokers there, you can be sure that someone just made money, except that it isn’t you.
All scams! All lies.
So, what do they claim Bitcoin Prime is?
“Bitcoin Prime lets you profit from all of these cryptocurrencies, even in a bear market. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically handle long and short selling for you so you can make money around the clock, even while you sleep.”
“Bitcoin prime is a trading software that is focused on cryptocurrency such as bitcoin. This app will automatically trade for you based on the trading signals it generates itself. Bitcoin prime reportedly earns each user an average of $1500 daily. The success rate of trades is said to be between 60 – 90%,” so the claim reads.
The report claims it to be an automated cryptocurrency trading platform that trades juicy deals for you while you sleep, allowing you to become a millionaire while you sleep; perhaps in your dreams.
What actual reviews say
It was difficult to get actual reviews on this since most cryptocurrency traders I reached out to had never even heard about Bitcoin Prime. One of the traders, Mr Jude Okugbo said, “the name sounds strange. I have not heard of it before.” When I mentioned the report about Aliko Dangote endorsing it, he stated, “It must be a scam. You don’t find Dangote endorsing crypto trading platforms.”
This is not different from what Olumide Adesina, a Financial analyst and crypto expert says about Bitcoin Prime. “It is a scam software and fake automated trading app. It is a cheap imitation and clone of the old Bitcoin code scam.”
A number of Youtube reviews and the accompanying comments also agree that Bitcoin Prime is a scam. One such video by Steve’s Trading an investment review channel on Youtube, says that Bitcoin Prime “has nothing to do with profitable cryptocurrency trading” and gave several reasons for it.
“Bitcoin Prime is a completely anonymous app that has no authorisation. It is therefore illegal in most countries of the world. You can’t even find out who owns it, let alone if the person or company is licensed; and that in itself is a big problem because that means you would entrust your money to someone who is intentionally hiding his identity. There is nothing good about it.”
The site claims to be backed by a certain Steve McKay, who claims to be a Wall Street Veteran who works for big firms. It is meant “to help ordinary people trade like a pro by using secret algorithms used by firms to earn billions of dollars.” This is where the first question comes in.
You get for free a program that is supposed to earn you tens of thousands of dollars a month and it costs nothing?
We also learn from Steve’s Trading that Bitcoin Prime is a scam that has existed for several years and changed its name regularly – Bitcoin Digital, Bitcoin Sunrise, Bitcoin Revolution, Crypto superstar, Bitcoin code, Bitcoin Revival, and several other names almost on a yearly basis.
“They are all the same program, running with the same website identity and designs, with the only difference being in the names. The video is always the same, the pictures and testimonials too. They also have promises of a program that will make you big money without you having to learn or do anything.
People in the photos have nothing to do with Bitcoin Prime, let alone use the program in any way. The experience of real users with the program is appalling because it was built to rob people of money and they have been doing this for a long time.
Fraudsters are flooding the internet with fake reviews in order to beat the negative testimonials of real users. You can be sure that any positive review you see was created and published by someone who has financial interests in this scam,” the review said.
What Channels TV had to say
When contacted with our findings, Channels TV immediately released an official disclaimer on all its handles warning viewers to be careful of such scammers, and to confirm all urls before consuming content purported to be from them.
The statement reads in part; “We are by this public notice warning unsuspecting members of the public of this fake Channels TV webpage and particularly that Channels TV DOES NOT sell, deal or endorse any crypto-currency/bitcoin platform. Our correct website is channelstv.com . Members of the public are advised to look out for this correct URL (channelstv.com) in consuming content from Channels TV.”
It has come to the attention of Channels Television that a fraudulent website involved in crypto-currency scam, has cloned the home page of the Channels TV website to give some form of credibility to its duplicitous activity. pic.twitter.com/OmHSdKD0dB
— Channels Television (@channelstv) April 26, 2021
Channels TV is not the first, neither is Dangote
Findings confirm that the scam programs often “feature fake articles that mimic reputable media and claim that the software is used by celebrities such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Richard Branson but the reality is that neither Bitcoin Prime nor any program of this kind is used by celebrities. All articles claiming the opposite are fake.
Neither Aliko Dangote nor Channels TV are the first victims here. There are similar fake media sites like one imitation of BBC News with the headline “SPECIAL REPORT: Amazon launches their newest platform Bitcoin Prime – aims to help families become wealthy.”
Who is behind it?
The Bitcoin Prime website claims to be backed by a certain Steve McKay, said to be a Wall Street Veteran, working for some big firms. No other name is mentioned here, but even if any was mentioned here, we know enough to consider it untrue.
As it turns out, Steve Mckay is just a fictitious person created by fraudsters, and the name is associated with a number of scams that hide behind cryptocurrencies. The photo of the Steve McKay we see on the website is a stock photo and can be gotten from a google image search.
“The name ‘Steve McKay’ first appeared in the Bitcoin Code scam years ago and since then fraudsters have used it over and over again in different versions of the program. There are no experienced traders and programmers behind Bitcoin Prime. It is a loss-making program and a common scam,” Steve’s trading says.
Are people still falling for it?
Obviously yes. If the reviews and comments on YouTube are anything to go by, then quite a number of persons have fallen victim. If the tab popped up on my browser, it could have popped up anywhere else too.
Jason Foster, a crypto trader and vlogger also shared in his YouTube review; “trading cryptos or any other thing requires a skillset. You have to learn it or pay someone.”
I think one question people need to ask themselves when they see a “too-easy and free wealth-making machine” is this, “If this was really possible, would anyone still need to work?”