The 23-year-old "Crypto King" has his luxury cars taken away as investors try to get their money back.
More than 140 investors say that Aiden Pleterski and his company owe them $35 million.
Two McLarens, two BMWs, and a Lamborghini are just some of the assets worth $2 million that were taken from a 23-year-old man from Whitby, Ontario. His investors are trying to get back the millions of dollars they gave to the self-proclaimed "Crypto King."
But Aiden Pleterski's assets are not even close to what his investors say they are owed.
Creditors are trying to figure out what happened to at least $35 million that was given to Pleterski and his company, AP Private Equity Limited, for investments in cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange. This is according to a fraud recovery lawyer and documents filed in two separate actions that CBC Toronto looked at.
Diane Moore gave Pleterski $60,000 that she had set aside for the education of her grandchildren. She met Pleterski through a longtime friend. She just lost $50,000.
Moore said, "The whole thing was based on trust." I think what Aiden did was terrible, and I don't know how he can live with himself.
Moore's investment contract said that she would get 70% of any capital gains and Pleterski would get 30%. If Moore's initial investment was lost, she would get her initial investment back in full, and the target capital gains were between 10% and 20% every two weeks.
Moore said, "I don't know if he ever really traded." "Or was this his plan all along, and the story was just a way to get me and other people inside?"
In a bankruptcy case against Pleterski, the 65-year-old man from Clarington, Ontario, is now one of 29 people who say they are owed nearly $13 million. In a lawsuit, another investor who says he lost $4.5 million got a Mareva injunction, which freezes Pleterski's assets and bank accounts around the world.
About 140 investors who gave Pleterski a total of $20 million in money answered a call for information from a fraud recovery law firm looking into him. Some of these investors are involved in the bankruptcy process.
"It was a huge surprise, we've never had a response like this," said Norman Groot, who started Investigation Counsel PC, a law firm that only helps people who think they have been scammed.
$45K a month to rent a lakefront mansion
Through a bankruptcy trustee's report, minutes from creditors' meetings, court filings, and complaints to Groot's firm, a picture of Pleterski's life before everything went wrong starts to take shape. Several paid-for articles called the young man "the Crypto King." He owned 11 cars, leased four other luxury cars, flew on private jets, and paid $45,000 a month to rent a lakefront mansion in Burlington, Ontario.
Groot told CBC Toronto, "This guy had a high lifestyle burn rate, but that doesn't explain how much money is missing."
"This case is hard to solve because Pleterski took in a lot of cash, and it's hard to track down cash."
Investors' only way to get their money back right now is through the bankruptcy case against Pleterski, which comes first over civil claims against him.
The minutes from the first creditors meeting in late August show that investors asked Pleterski a lot of questions. The meeting lasted more than five hours. Pleterski told the meeting that he "was a 20-something-year-old kid" when asked why he kept investing money even though he knew he couldn't pay back his investors.
Pleterski did not answer when asked for a comment for this story.
Pleterski's lawyer said that the money claims were "wildly exaggerated."
In an email to CBC Toronto, Pleterski's lawyer said that his client disagrees with many of the accusations against him and thinks that many of the people who gave him money are "wildly exaggerating" their claims about money. Pleterski started investing in cryptocurrency when he was a teenager. When people saw how much money he was making for himself and other people, they gave him money to invest, but his lawyer says he never asked for money.
"It's shocking that no one thought about what would happen if the cryptocurrency market crashed or if Aiden, who is still very young, was ready to handle these kinds of investments," Simaan wrote.
"Aiden has been helping with the bankruptcy process and hopes that everything will work out in a fair way for everyone."
The trustee told the meeting of creditors that Pleterski said he lost most of the money given to him in late 2021 and early 2022 "in a series of margin calls and bad trades." But as of August 29, the trustee had not seen any proof of that, even though he had asked Pleterski for proof of trades and bank statements.
When asked about how he kept track of his investments, Pleterski told the meeting that he wasn't very organized, didn't pay attention to his finances, and didn't write down his debts or payments.
Never had a watch worth more than $600,000
Investors also asked about luxury cars, watches, and gold bars, among other possible assets. Pleterski told the meeting that he had never owned a Patek Philippe watch and that he had never owned a watch worth more than $600,000.
CBC Toronto also looked at the Mareva injunction, which was issued as part of an investor-led lawsuit against Pleterski before the bankruptcy proceeding ended the lawsuit.
In the ruling that gave the injunction, Ontario Superior Court Justice Phillip Sutherland explains the investor's claim that he was shown pictures and videos of statements from a foreign exchange/cryptocurrency trading platform that showed $311 million in the account of Pleterski's company. According to the court decision, when the investor checked with the trading platform on his own, he was told that Pleterski and his company did not have accounts with these kinds of funds.
Like Moore, the investor in the lawsuit says that the terms of the investment called for a 70/30 split on capital gains and that, if the money was lost, the investor would get his or her full initial investment back in biweekly payments. The goal for capital gains would be growth of 10–20% every two weeks.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn't.
Groot, who has been a certified fraud examiner for more than 20 years, says that most of the money given to Pleterski was given when the price of cryptocurrency went up last year, and that there was "greed or excitement" involved.
He said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true."
"On the open market, you can't get interest of 5% per week. Talk to a conservative and get a second opinion if you think a 23-year-old kid will be the next Bill Gates."
Groot says that the only other way for investors to get their money back would be to report the company to the Ontario Securities Commission and the police.
"They take a long time," Groot said. "The more time that passes, the less likely it is that evidence will be found and money will be found."
The lawyer told CBC Toronto that many investors in the Greater Toronto Area who have talked to his firm have told police about Pleterski. Moore says that she and investors who heard about the opportunity from her told Durham Regional Police about it.
Unlike Moore, some of those investors used a line of credit to get the money they needed to invest.
Moore said, "I feel terrible for them." "I just wish I hadn't brought it up."