Oh Byeong-min, Na Sun-uk, and others involved in Winnerz crypto scam

abdelaziz Fathi

South Korea is embroiled in a high-profile cryptocurrency scandal, featuring a dubious scheme promoted by blockchain sports platform Winnerz.

Per a The Korea Herald report, Winnerz, which is known for its cryptocurrency issuance among other ventures, now stands accused of orchestrating a coin scam, deceiving investors with a fake cryptocurrency.

The controversy emerged following complaints from anonymous investors, who claimed that Winnerz was issuing a bogus cryptocurrency, luring investments, and subsequently blocking any attempts to withdraw funds. The National Police Agency initiated an investigation into the scheme on February 5, following prior reports to the National Civil Service.

The scandal has garnered further attention due to the involvement of high-profile celebrities and YouTubers, who allegedly promoted Winnerz’s fraudulent scheme. These influencers were purportedly compensated for purchasing the coins or for facilitating the recruitment of additional investors. The speculation was fueled by photos circulating online of celebrities, including comedian Na Sun-uk, attending Winnerz’s end-of-year celebration.

Choi Seung-Jung, a notable figure within Winnerz, whose associations with celebrities have raised suspicions, is accused of orchestrating multiple crypto token scams, including those involving GDG and TYP coins.

This scenario echoes a broader trend where celebrities have been implicated in promoting deceptive crypto projects, not only in Korea but globally. High-profile cases involve individuals like Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather, who faced legal repercussions for their endorsements of fraudulent schemes.

In response to the allegations, many celebrities linked to Winnerz have distanced themselves, denying any involvement or investment in the contentious project. Despite this, certain figures, such as popular YouTuber Oh Byeong-min, acknowledged investing in Winnerz. Oh Byeong-min, who boasts two million subscribers, discovered his name listed as a company director. Amid the growing scandal, he declared his withdrawal from Winnerz, confirming his disengagement from all future collaborations with the firm.

South Korea’s government is set to make the cryptocurrency and other asset holdings of about 5,800 officials available to the public. This new measure, which starts next year, is part of an effort to increase transparency in the government.

The country’s five major domestic crypto exchanges – Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, Korbit, and Gopax – have plans to develop a separate system by June next year to assist in property registration.

This move comes amid broader regulatory changes in South Korea concerning cryptocurrencies. In June, lawmakers passed legislation to protect crypto investors, granting oversight authority to the Financial Services Commission and the Bank of Korea.

Furthermore, the Financial Services Commission announced in July that domestic companies would be required to disclose cryptocurrency holdings as part of new accounting rules starting 2024.

 

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