geteasy-logoFollowing a series of raids, earlier this year Spanish authorities arrested several GetEasy ringleaders.

Now, working with their counter-parts in Portugal, another GetEasy ringleader has been apprehended in Madeira.

For those unfamiliar with the company, GetEasy was a Ponzi scheme that collapsed in early 2015. Specifically targeting Europe and South America, GetEasy conducted investment fraud under the guise of renting GPS trackers to non-existent retail customers.

Seemingly unable to stop scamming people after GetEasy collapsed, Portuguese ringleader Hernani Goncalves went on to launch Empire MLM.

Offering 300% ROIs in six months, Empire MLM collapsed shortly after launch. Goncalves was lying low in Madeira until his arrest in Madeira last Wednesday.

Goncalves’ arrest is reported to have been at the behest of Spanish authorities, who filed an international arrest warrant and have been after him “for a long time”.

Why it took Portuguese authorities so long to apprehend Goncalves, who was neither hiding or on the run, is a mystery.

In an apparent vote of no confidence in the Portuguese judicial system, Spanish authorities had hoped to extradite Goncalves. The extradition was purportedly necessary “to ensure he would face charges”.

Unfortunately those plans were thwarted late last week, when appeal court judges set Goncalves free.

hernani-goncalves-with-geteasy-managementAt the appeal hearing, Goncalves (right, with GetEasy executives Michael Herzog and Tiago Fontoura), argued he was “just a distributor” in GetEasy. He also claimed it was not a Ponzi scheme.

That apparently was good enough for Portuguese judges, who released Goncalves. According to Portuguese media, “what happens next is unclear.”

As I understand it, Portugal, specifically Madeira, has been a hotbed of Ponzi recruitment as far back as TelexFree.

Evidently Portuguese authorities can make arrests, but only when pressured by foreign authorities and the issuing of an international arrest warrant. And even then they drag their feet.

And should a miraculous arrest be made, then the Portuguese judiciary appear to be reluctant to hold scammers accountable.

Pretty disappointing considering the number of scams we’ve seen run or targeting Portugal these past few years.

Madeira only has a population of few hundred thousand, but as I understand it has provided an endless supply of greedy investors to feed recent European Ponzi schemes.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Goncalves now goes “missing” and, as the publication Portgual Resident put it, “Spanish authorities may be back at square one.”