Bankoff sent emails informing its users that VISA and Stripe no longer support virtual cards.
Crypto Lists validate the company has effectively forced the platform to cease operations, following almost empty crypto wallets at Bankoff. The Delaware-registered company had operations in Azerbaijan. It was popular with Russians, who used it to find a way around the western sanctions. Russians were able to pay for items and services after primary processors restricted services in the country due to the sanctions.
Bankoff statement on its cease of operations
Bankoff is a platform that issued its users’ virtual cards where they can top up using cryptocurrencies. Most notably, one could top up the virtual card with the pegged stable coin, USDT. It allowed Russians to continue purchasing items outside their country despite being cut off from the global financial system. The news of its cease of operations via email to its clients took many by surprise. In the email, they blame VISA and Silicon Valley payments unicorn Stripe. It stated that the cards fail to support any offline or online payments. The company claimed that the increased number of active users and transactions from Russia led to the cease of support of virtual cards. Crypto Lists assume that Union Pay also played a crucial part in deposits for Russian citizens. Furthermore, Bankoff claimed there was a freeze of its funds held in a United States account. It assured its users that it is in the process of restoring access to the funds.
Users cry foul on Bankoff on suspicion of scam
Several online forums speculate that the company may have conned users of their funds. There is no particular evidence showcasing receipt of letters from Visa and Stripe. It includes published letters acknowledging the cease of support of Bankoff’s virtual cards. The crypto wallets of Bankoff went blank shortly before its cease of operations. However, others dispute whether it was a scam. Those of this school of thought defend Bankoff claiming that the company is required to cash out the USDT from users. They needed to input fiat currency into the users’ virtual cards, and users suggest that the company did this through two major exchanges. These include FX and Binance.
Users sent their USDT to two addresses. These are Tron blockchain and the Binance Smart Chain. Since its foundation in August 2020, Bankoff received a cumulative figure of $6.12 million in USDT. This balance has fallen off to less than $800. The Binance Smart Chain address associated with Bankoff had sent significant funding to FTX deposit addresses. At least $2.47 million in USDT passed through Bankoff’s BSC wallet. It currently holds less than $700 USDT. These are a significant decrease in the wallet as it heads towards being empty.
History of Bankoff
The company, Bankoff, was founded in August 2020. It became popular throughout the Russia and Ukraine conflict in spring. Russians, in particular, grew accustomed to the platform after the country received international sanctions. It was not only citizens who resided in Russia that were affected. Russians away from their country were significantly affected, especially with the suspension of their VISA and Mastercards. It led to a noteworthy impact on their purchase of goods and services, It includes software licenses and services such as hotel and airline bookings.
Bankoff’s features were an ideal alternative, especially with their virtual debit cards. Two months ago, the company had crossed over the ten thousand user threshold. The virtual debit cards were easily accessible. Users signed up through a bot in a social media app such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Instagram, or Meta’s Facebook Messenger. Once they register, Bankoff issued virtual debit cards to users. Users can then top up their virtual debit cards by sending USDT to the Bankoff address on the Binance Smart Chain or Tron blockchain.
The company also offered users information on the Binance peer-to-peer marketplace for buying USDT. It also taught users how to send the USDT tokens to Bankoff’s wallet. It is well known amongst Russian users that Bankoff also had a Wells Fargo account. There is evidence of a SWIFT code on Bankoff transactions consistent with Wells Fargo international transfers. It was in a Telegram group chat where users shared their experiences.
Crypto Lists Ltd confirmed that the Bankoff company did not have any particular license to operate or provide such financial service. There is only confirmation of the existence of a company named Bankoff registered in Delaware in April 2021.
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