Money is the elixir of life. It’s hard-earned and for many people too much of it is not easy to come by. For most average Joes the dream of high living and superstar glamour is just that – a dream. Most of us like the thought of having extra cash and this day in age it’s not uncommon to hear stories of people doing really well on financial investments with treasures such as Bitcoin and stock market shares. However, it’s also often said that there’s no such thing as easy money so it might be wise for one to be suspicious whenever they hear tell of something that sounds too good to be true, even if it does seem very convincing.
The story of FutureNet is pretty impressive, infuriating, and upsetting. It was a pretty slick scam and I have no doubt that many people the world over fell victim to its charm.
A few years ago I started becoming intrigued by the world of investments, finance and technology. Like most people I had heard stories of great fortune surrounding Bitcoin and stock market shares. At the same time cryptocurrency was making waves; there was a lot of stuff popping up about emerging cryptocurrencies such as the Facebook Libra and Kodak cryptocoin. Amidst all this excitement I started to notice a lot of activity pertaining to an investment opportunity on Facebook and LinkedIn. The investment opportunity was FutureNet – a sophisticated Ponzi scheme that spoke of cryptocurrency and generous profits.
Curiosity killed the cat and so on June 6, 2018, I reached out to an individual on LinkedIn. The individual was endearing and personable. Her LinkedIn profile suggested that she was a professional of good credentials and experience. She seemed to be quite heavily involved in FutureNet; she was frequently posting content about FutureNet, actively promoting them and eagerly onboarding new investors. She was, essentially, a sales rep for FutureNet. (Her name shall not be disclosed in this article so she is herein referred to as Jane Doe).
Jane Doe seemed trustworthy when I chatted with her on LinkedIn. She assured me that FutureNet was a risk-free enterprise, and she confirmed to me that she had already yielded €17,000 from FutureNet herself. This was pretty compelling stuff, and I was wavering on the edge of parting with my cash. Yet I felt that something just wasn’t right. It seemed too good to be true, and the video she sent me was just a little too optimistic as it was suggesting that one could make millions in a relatively short period of time. The outrageous figures sparked alarm bells in my mind, but if they had of been a little more humble, or if I had of been a little less inquisitive, I’d have been sold.
As can be seen from the conversation above; Jane Doe had invited me to meet her in person so that she could “show me” the infallible wonders of investing with FutureNet. There was also an offer to join a Whatsapp group. In hindsight I now consider myself very lucky to have missed such appointments. I did want to meet her, and it is possible that a persuasive face-to-face meeting would have quelled my doubts about FutureNet, but fortunately there were other aspirations taking precedence in my life at that time. However, this was not the last time I heard from Jane Doe.
Less than two months later she reached out to me on Facebook and invited me to a live FutureNet presentation in Drogheda, Co Louth. Playing altruism she ensured me that there was “too much money to be made” and that it would be in my best interest to check out the event. Thankfully this was another outing that I did not attend as I have no doubt that it was absolutely beguiling.
As time passed FutureNet dropped off the radar, and communication between myself and Jane Doe never happened again. I didn’t think anything of it, until one day a few months ago I found myself daydreaming and it popped into my head. I thought to myself, “hmm, remember FutureNet? I wonder what ever happened to that. I wonder how their cryptocurrency turned out. I’ll be kicking myself now if I discover that I missed out on a chance to become a millionaire. Hmm. I’ll go look them up online and see how they’re getting on.” At this point I decided to indulge my curiosities and so I researched the status of FutureNet online. What I discovered was that FutureNet had in fact disbanded, and that it turned out to be an international scam run by notorious criminals.
Trawling the web gave up an abundance of stunning information concerning FutureNet and the people behind it. FutureNet was founded by Stephen Morgenstern and Roman Ziemian, and according to online sources they both have a chequered past. Both have been involved in other international scams. Last year they illegally acquired diplomatic passports from Gambia. An outlet called What’s On Gambia reported that they were listed as advisors to the Gambian government, despite never having set foot in the country. More recently FutureNet have come under investigation in South Korea after authorities discovered that it has defrauded South Korean investors of $16.7 million ( https://coingeek.com/south-korea-investigating-a-16-million-futurenet-digital-currency-scam/ ).
Hugh Paul Ward was the leading promoter of FutureNet. He has an address in Northern Ireland and he has also been linked to an abundance of international scams. In Ireland in 2012 he was associated with an enterprise called My Shopping Genie, his partner in this venture was American Bruce Bise. Bise is a convicted fraudster who has served a 7 year prison sentence in America ( https://beatthescammer.blogspot.com/ ).
Having uncovered so much startling information about FutureNet I felt a great sense of relief and good fortune for having dodged such a wicked scheme, but I also felt really sad and angry at the awareness of such a malevolent plot. I reflected on my own interactions with Jane Doe – the sales rep that tried to swindle me – and I decided to follow up on her to see if she had anything to say for herself.
When I reached out to Jane Doe in June 2020 she was no longer enthusiastic about engaging with me. She failed to acknowledge me on both Facebook and LinkedIn, and she told a blatant lie about her FutureNet profits. Her attitude had gone from vivacious and good-natured to cold and ignorant. This was disheartening because a tiny little part of me was hoping for an explanation, an apology, a show of repentance at least; anything to make her seem like a human being with even just a smattering of a conscience.
Jane Doe cuts a lovable figure. She presents herself as a compassionate motherly lady; interested only in helping others, not in the slightest way greedy or selfish. At this stage however I would be skeptical of her benevolence. I would see her more as a Venus flytrap; one that sees trust as an exploitable vulnerability in others. I believe her to be an individual completely devoid of all human empathy and I believe she has absolutely no qualms when it comes to harming victims and telling lies.
Magnificent scams like FutureNet happen all the time. People from all walks of life can be conned by brilliant con artists. The flair, the skill, the showy excellence of these cons can be marvelous. Talking about this topic has led me to learn that many people never report certain scams that affect them because they feel too foolish or embarrassed to do so; victims can feel guilty for “allowing” themselves to be duped.
The propagation of scoundrels is a sad reality of the world we live in and there will always be scams and rip-offs there to gobble up unwitting participants. Although some scams are incredibly persuasive, others blow their own cover with obvious tell-tale signs of fraud; thus serving as a reminder that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.