International cryptocurrencies convention held despite suspected pyramid scheme
Thousands of young people attend event after paying €200 and being promised mastery of 'new financial era'
An international cryptocurrencies convention gathering thousands of young people has taken place in Badalona, just north of Barcelona, over the weekend, despite accusations of scam.
Each of the participants paid €200 to attend the event organized by IM Mastery Academy, which is involved in a case of suspected pyramid scheme, attracting young people with "typical methods of sects," according to the Spanish police. In late March, eight of its members were arrested.
The three-day convention sold out, with 9,200 people attending, many of them in suits, after being promised a mastery of the "new financial era," referring to cryptocurrencies, as Marco, a 21-year-old coming from Sicily told the Catalan News Agency (ACN).
"Bitcoin is the future and the present," he added.
Given the large media attention the event has drawn due to the accusations of scam, organizers have prohibited attendees to talk to the press.
However, a 19-year-old called Morana, said to ACN that she has "no words to describe the energy in the interior" of the arena where the event has taken place.
She explained that IM Mastery Academy has taught her "how to invest, how to have the correct mentality in order to build a sustainable future."
She is one of the many who are enrolled in online courses offered by the firm, which range from €170 to €270 per month, on top of the up to €300 of registration fee.
"We owe a lot" to IM Mastery Academy, said some of the attendees who rejected giving their names.
Indeed, 'IM, IM' was one of the chants heard by those who were entering the Palau Olímpic de Badalona arena.
Authorities unable to cancel event
The local council tried to get the basketball team in charge of the rents of the venue, Joventut de Badalona, to cancel it. Yet, the club replied that they delegate the management of the rents to a company and were not even aware that this specific event was taking place.
"We are working on improving the monitoring mechanisms so that the situation is not repeated," says Joventut de Badalona.
Despite the efforts of local authorities to cancel it throughout the weekend, the convention has in the end taken place.
'The same scam as always, with a new label'
Also talking to ACN, IT and telecommunications professor at UOC Víctor García Font said that being promised easy money is "the same scam as always, with a new label."
"They always take people for a ride with a new technology in order to hide the same scam as always."
For him, a large amount of cryptocurrencies investors "do not have enough knowledge" to do it.
Antonio Gijón, a psychologist specializing in addictions, said that certain platforms use sectarian means in order to make the most of this "modern version of addiction to gambling."
Some young people, according to him, are tempted by the promises of "living in good conditions without working."
"Any euro they get, they spend it on this. And if they do not have any, they steal it."