Spanish authorities have arrested the ringleader behind the Nano Club Ponzi scheme.

Cited only as “the head of a criminal organization”, the suspect has been charged by Belgian authorities on multiple counts of fraud and money laundering.

As reported by The Leader on June 30th, 2024;

A 45-year-old Belgian has been arrested in Orihuela Costa on charges of fraud and money laundering in connection with a €24 million pyramid scheme.

The man, who faces up to ten years in prison, is accused of heading a criminal organization that defrauded Belgian investors between 2015 and 2018.

The Belgian authorities allege that the defendant lured investors into a fraudulent cryptocurrency investment scheme. Investors were promised high returns on their investments in “nano coins.”

Before we get to nano coins we have to back up to 2015 and the launch of Crypto 888 Club.

Crypto 888 Club was an MLM crypto Ponzi built around “octacoin”. Aleksander Romanov, an individual believed to not exist, was presented as Crypto 888 Club’s founder.

Over the next year and a half Crypto 888 Club collapsed twice and was rebooted three times. BehindMLM next reported on the third reboot, Nano Club.

Nano Club launched in late 2016 and was more of the same financial fraud, this time built around “nanocoins”.

Nano Club lasted until late 2017, wherein it was rebooted for a fourth and final time as Nano Crowd.

Nano Crowd saw Nano Club victims funnelled into Ormeus Global, a Ponzi scheme set up by US national John Barksdale.

Barksdale was indicted on Ormeus Global fraud charges in the US in 2022. Barksdale was hiding out in Thailand at the time of his indictment.

Barksdale has since fled to Dubai, where he’s being harbored by Mavie Global – yet another MLM crypto Ponzi scheme. Barksdale remains a wanted fugitive.

Getting back to Nano Club and its nano coins;

The man is believed to be the head of the Belgian company behind the pyramid scheme.

According to the Belgian court, he collected over €9.8 million from investors through his companies. The investigation also suggests that he used much of this money to purchase real estate properties in Spain.

BehindMLM readers have tied Nano Club to multiple Belgian nationals over the years.

NANO real owner Stijn Vanstraelen, right hands are: Pieter Van Devijver, Kris Lemmens, Kristof De Vlieger, Tim Vermeiren, François Colin, Patrick Vermeesch, Hendrik Hendrickx, NANO CEO George Van Wijk, the NANO Lawyer Petter Forsberg.

In 2016 a BehindMLM reader claimed Stijn Van Straelen was “an insider at Nano and is living in the Torevieja area in Spain, bought an expensive villa there and enjoying the good life from his “blood” money.”

Torrevieja is 10 miles from Orihuela Costa in Spain’s south-east. This also tracks with the arrested Belgian national laundering money through Spanish properties.

Here’s the only known photo of the arrested Nano Club ringleader:

Prior to Crypto 888 Club, here’s Stijn Van Straelen promoting EmGoldex in 2014:

Emgoldex is an unrelated Russian collapsed MLM Ponzi scheme.

This profile photo was uploaded to a FaceBook account bearing the name “Vanstraelen Stijn” in May 2023:

As you can see, Van Straelen has been going bald for sometime. While Van Straelen could have gotten the mid-life crisis treatment in Turkey and put on a bunch of weight over the past year, I still don’t think he’s a strong match for the arrested suspect though.

I’ve done my best to profile each of the named Nano Club accomplices by our readers but still can’t confirm who the arrested suspect is. Somebody familiar with Nano Club should be able to recognize who it is though.

As named by a BehindMLM reader (quoted above), Petter Forsberg does indeed appear to be the Norwegian lawyer who oversaw Nano Club’s money laundering.

The investigation revealed that the money invested by the victims was channelled through a complex web of accounts in Norway, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Most of the money appears to have been transferred to accounts outside of Belgium, with a significant portion going to accounts held by a lawyer in Norway.

The Belgian criminal investigation into Nano Club was launched following complaints from Belgian victims. To date Belgian authorities have received and filed complaints from 58 victims.

Unfortunately, as is often the case when European authorities handle MLM Ponzi cases, the arrested Nano Club suspect has since been released.

As reported by Informacion on June 30th;

The fugitive … was recently arrested at his home in Orihuela Costa due to a European arrest and surrender order (OEDE) issued by a Belgian court for crimes of abuse of trust, fraud, theft, pyramid scheme, unfair commercial practices, criminal organization, falsification of documents, money laundering, defamation, computer falsification and violation of the protection of legal tender monetary signs.

The fugitive, who was provisionally released after being placed at the disposal of the National Court … has been linked in Belgium to a criminal organization that defrauded investors who paid more than 24 million euros.

Whether the suspect has already fled Spain is unclear.

Tracking international cases is difficult but if we come across any further updates we’ll keep you posted.


Update 5th July 2024 – Media reports have confirmed the arrested Nano Club suspect is Stijn Vanstraelen.