You’ve probably heard of the notorious pirate Blackbeard who terrified shipping in the Caribbean in the 17th century and managed to loot chests of gold coins from his victims, but have you heard of the modern day pirate Hans Pasveer?
His full name is Johannes Alexander Pasveer and on the face of it, or based on a quick Google search, he looks like a fairly ordinary businessman. He has a background that starts in the Dutch Royal Navy as a helicopter pilot on ships; which makes him sound like a stand-up guy, but as we dig into his later career in the direct selling industry and then in network marketing, it becomes clear that Pasveer isn’t quite as squeaky clean as his Bloomberg profile might make him appear.
After a few years of exporting car tyres from Europe to South America, a continent that plays a role in the Hans Pasveer story, he moved into the MLM industry. Multi-level marketing (MLM) is also known as network marketing, and whilst there are legitimate businesses in this sector, i.e. Mary Kay, Herbalife, Forever Living, it is also a breeding ground for less scrupulous networks who cause tremendous suffering to vulnerable people around the world. It is always those who need money the most who are most likely to be the main victims. One of the ways in which many scammers operate is by using investment in cryptocurrency as the means of scalping network members, and this is where Hans Pasveer made millions – exactly how much we’ll get to in a bit.
When Bitcoin, which is the strongest cryptocurrency and one that doesn’t have any connection to network marketing, provided its early adopters with incredible profits, it woke a lot of people up to the fact that there was money to be made in cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, not all of the people who saw the opportunity had good intentions. Scammers around the world set up MLM clubs where people thought that they making an investment that would return a profit. Mostly it I didn’t.
People sold their houses, emptied their pension pots and poured hundreds of thousands into these ‘new’ cryptocurrencies. People were given ‘coins’ in return for buying membership of the MLM, and some of the membership packages cost thousands. But the hype was; if you buy a bigger package, you get bigger rewards. And when members sold packages to new members, they were rewarded with more cryptocurrency. Except, their ‘coins’ didn’t have the same kind of value that Bitcoin does. It is changing your dollars or euros for Monopoly money. But it takes time before a network’s members understand what is going on and that’s what a man like Hans Pasveer relies on.
LEO Coin scam
In 2012, Pasveer became a distributor for LEO Tower and its product LEO Coin. In fact he was so good at getting people into the network that he was asked to join the board of LEO Tower as a representative for its network of distributors.
LEOCoin launched in 2015 and in a very short period of time claimed to be the “world’s second largest digital currency,” which Cryptocoin News says is “bullshit!” LEO’s leaders said 100,000 entrepreneurs were using the currency, yet journalists couldn’t find any merchant who accepted it. It was, said one writer, “an example of a ‘pump and dump’ coins, and investors specialising in the digital currency market were advised to stay away from it.
The LEO pyramid scheme
And it wasn’t long before somebody accused it of being a pyramid scheme and a crypto scam. LEO Tower, which is a UK-registered company with an ‘exchange’ in Hong Kong was founded by Dan Andersson and Atif Kamran, who were both caught up in a pyramid scheme scandal in Pakistan in 2012. The leopard doesn’t change its spots so easily, so it is unsurprising that William Keep, an expert witness in the prosecution of pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes, told CoinDesk, “some of LEO’s business model does raise questions, in particular because it uses incentives to recruit others.” This aspect doesn’t always make a network business, as there are plenty who clearly pay their members for bringing other people on board, but when you’re given worthless coins as a reward, then there is an issue. Hans Pasveer knew all this very well and saw a way to make a good personal profit by piracy and embezzlement.
Hans Pasveer steals LEO Coins
Pasveer converted members’ LEO Coins into personal shares of LEO Tower, the parent company of LEO Coin, which has other MLM products as well. When he embezzled the coins by turning them into shares, he also became a major shareholder in Leo Tower. Overall, it is estimated that he stole €11million from LEO Tower and laundered the money through buying real estate and by secreting cash in the Republic of Suriname in South America, also known as Dutch Guyana.
Along with other LEO Tower directors, he built up a portfolio of fake properties in unknown locations. It also had a ‘fake’ villa development in Portugal’s Algarve, a chateau in Paris and a holiday cottage project near Toronto. People from all over the world poured their life savings into this LEO scheme, which their LEO Coins would pay for, meanwhile Hans Pasveer continues to exploit vulnerable people for their personal gain.
If you come across Hans Pasveer online and he offers you a great ‘get rich quick’ scheme, as the Romans used to say ‘caveat emptor’ – let the buyer beware. You may never see your money again.