This multi-million crypto rug pull has a new twist: The CEO may not exist

The Guardian Australia published an investigation several months ago into a crypto scheme-slash-scam called HyperVerse, a fund that used major celebrity endorsements to attract millions of dollars from small investors before collapsing. Blockchain Global went bust owing $58 million USD in 2021, but now there’s a rather classic fraudster sting in the tail: The CEO who promoted this scheme doesn’t seem to be a real person.

HyperVerse was promoted by Blockchain Global co-founders Sam Lee and Ryan Xu, both of whom have been referred to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission: Lee denies HyperVerse was a scam and disputes his founding status, Xu has said nothing. But the company’s CEO was one Steven Reece Lewis, who appeared at the scheme’s launch in late 2021 alongside video messages supporting HyperVerse from, among others, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and actor Chuck Norris.

Steven Reece Lewis, according to HyperVerse, had graduated from the University of Leeds, had a master’s degree from Cambridge, had sold a company to Adobe and launched an IT start-up firm, etcetera. He’d also found time to cram-in a stint at Goldman Sachs (memorably described by Matt Taibbi as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”) before apparently being headhunted by HyperVerse.

Lewis appeared in the HyperVerse launch video and you can watch him below. I invite you to consider whether this is a Cambridge graduate and Goldman Sachs operator, or a jobbing actor who doesn’t quite realise what he’s signed up for: note especially the pronunciation of “HyperVerse”.

Problem is… none of these esteemed institutions have ever heard of Steven Reece Lewis. A Guardian follow-up found neither the universities, nor the companies named, nor Companies House (the UK-based register of businesses) had any record of someone by that name. Adobe has never bought a company owned by someone of that name, nor does Goldman Sachs have any record of him. His only internet presences are all linked to HyperVerse, including an X account set up one month before HyperVerse which has subsequently gone dormant.

Of the two (alleged) company founders, Xu is mostly inactive while Lee seems to be involved in all sorts of misdoings. HyperVerse is linked to another crypto scheme of his called HyperFund and Lee is linked to multiple other crypto investment platforms including the unbelievably ironic “We Are All Satoshi”. This is a reference to Satoshi Nakamoto, the nom-de-plume of the founder of Bitcoin, whose original idea of empowering the little guy to avoid centralised banking is a far cry from the wild west of hucksters and thieves cryptocurrency has become.

A “desist and refrain order” was issued to Lee in California for controlling the We Are All Satoshi scam, which said it was a “fraudulent pyramid and Ponzi scheme”.

Last year Lee briefly met Hyper investors after the collapse became obvious and encouraged them to “rebuild your tree”. I’m not sure anyone even needs to hear the rest after that.

There is no number for how much people may have lost through Blockchain Global: the estimates go from the tens of millions into the low billions. That itself says something fundamental about crypto.

And perhaps it’s appropriate that Steven Reece Lewis almost disappeared in this article: After all, it seems very likely he was never real to begin with. No-one knows what’s there and, while we all may be Satoshi in spirit, nature is rather more red in tooth-and-claw.

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