Legendary Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho Gaúcho found himself entangled in a web of deceit when an alleged $61 million crypto pyramid scheme bearing his name came to light. However, in a recent congressional hearing in Brazil, the iconic soccer star emphatically denied any involvement in the fraudulent crypto scheme and proclaimed himself a victim.
The Deceptive Scheme Unveiled
The scheme, known as “18kRonaldinho,” promised investors an enticing 2% daily return on their cryptocurrency investments. It didn’t take long for authorities to take notice of the fraudulent operation, leading to a substantial $61 million lawsuit seeking damages for those who fell victim to the scam. It was against this backdrop that Ronaldinho’s alleged association with the scheme was thrust into the spotlight.
Ronaldinho’s Forceful Denial
Appearing before a parliamentary committee inquiry on August 31, Ronaldinho categorically distanced himself from the “18kRonaldinho” scheme, which bore his name but was operating without his consent. He underscored that he had never entered into a partnership with the company behind the crypto scheme and had absolutely no involvement in its activities.
In his defense, Ronaldinho contended that the company had unlawfully exploited his name and likeness for marketing purposes, effectively implicating him in the fraudulent enterprise. He expressed his profound regret over the scheme’s victims, stressing that he too had been deceived by the unscrupulous actors behind this fraudulent operation.
The Unveiling of Misleading Marketing Material
During the hearing, images from 18kRonaldinho’s promotional material were presented. These materials depicted Ronaldinho alongside enticing text claiming that investors could expect their money to yield up to 2% daily returns. Ronaldinho clarified that these images had been captured as part of a contract he signed in July 2019 with a subsidiary of the company that primarily sold watches. However, that contract had been terminated in October of the same year and had never been executed.
A Silence That Speaks Volumes
When queried by the inquiry’s president, Aureo Ribeiro, about whether he intended to reimburse the individuals who had invested in the company, Ronaldinho opted to remain silent. Similarly, he did not provide any response regarding the $61 million lawsuit. His silence, in this instance, conveyed a strong message of his detachment from the fraudulent scheme and his unwillingness to endorse or be associated with any aspect of it.
Facing the Consequences of Absence
Notably, Ronaldinho had failed to appear before two previous hearings linked to the inquiry, with his most recent absence on August 24. He cited adverse weather conditions as the reason for his inability to attend. However, this failure to participate had fueled speculation and intensified the spotlight on his involvement or lack thereof.
The hearing on August 31 marked his final opportunity to appear before Congress. Had he continued to evade the summons, Ronaldinho faced the prospect of fines or even arrest, with authorities forcibly compelling his attendance. The pressure to attend this conclusive hearing was immense, given its pivotal role in shaping public perception and clarifying Ronaldinho’s position in the midst of these grave allegations.
The Wider Inquiry and Ongoing Investigation
The inquiry, initiated in June, was established to investigate alleged crypto pyramid schemes that had wreaked havoc on unsuspecting investors. Falling under the jurisdiction of Brazil’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, it is currently probing a total of 11 companies accused by the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission of making false promises of high returns through cryptocurrency investments. As the inquiry delves deeper into these fraudulent schemes, Ronaldinho’s case serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that lurk in the crypto space. While the allure of quick profits can be tempting, investors must exercise utmost caution and conduct thorough due diligence to avoid falling victim to scams. Ronaldinho’s unequivocal denial of involvement in the 18kRonaldinho scheme underscores the need for vigilance and underscores the importance of verifying the legitimacy of any investment opportunity in the crypto world.