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How a fictional “terrorist” and the carelessness of the German security forces compromised a company’s reputation

The situation with the German startup JA EXPERTS AG in August 2019, which caused excitement and surprise among Internet users, finally cleared up. Half a year ago, the Coinstelegram team managed to communicate with the representatives of the UFO-House Hotel project, and today we would like to recall how it was and tell how it all ended.

UFO-House Hotel is a popular project from JA EXPERTS AG with its head office in Hanover, which consists of tokenizing the construction of eco-hotels and houses. The company has been creating buildings in ufo-style since 2015 in popular tourist cities, including Antigua, Tenerife, Seychelles, and Hawaii. For hotel reservations, blockchain security protocols are used, and in 2018, the company issued its UFOHotelCoin token, to ensure the operation of the blockchain network of its project.

Source: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5156815.0

The project attracted money from investors and followed roadmap until a key moment occurred that caused a radical reaction from the authorities, including the freezing of bank accounts and investigative actions by the police.

On 5 August 2019, in a dawn raid police searched the company’s office, and three days earlier, bank accounts were frozen and a criminal case was opened against employees. The reason for such drastic measures on the part of the German police was a transaction of $ 200,000 dollars, which came to the project account from Russian Vladimir Makarov from St. Petersburg.

After the bank’s report, which was serviced by JA EXPERTS AG, about a “suspicious” transaction, searches, criminal cases and the seizure of computers from the office of an international company began. In response to questions from the company’s CEO Anna Hammer, security officials said the company was suspected of collaborating with terrorists and money laundering. Moreover, the court for several days allowed searches in the office.

All electronic media were seized – flash drives, cards, laptops, phones. Imagine what it means to be left without electronic media now. As a result, employees do not have access even to mail, to banking, everything needs to be restored step-by-step. The company suffers reputational losses because it is not possible to conduct other transactions … So urgently, in 3 days to open a case and get a court sanction – this means that the police had specific data. The seasonal factor also worked – August, the vacation period. They received the sanction on Friday, and no one began to understand in detail since this is a terrorist threat. They carried out the operation of the highest level: 4 task forces of 6 people each, in civilian clothes, so as not to frighten away the “terrorists”.  — UFO-House Hotel representatives reported in August 2019.

Since the management of the company did not violate any laws and felt not guilty, they and all other employees made contact with law enforcement officers, providing all the necessary data and not interfering with the investigation. The police did not give any comments, having a legal right to this within 14 days, and the company management initiated its own investigation to find the reasons for this situation. 

It turned out that the police made a strange mistake, and confused the Russian investor from St. Petersburg with his full namesake – Vladimir Makarov, who is the leader of the “Russian Ultranationalist Government and Military forces” — terrorist organization operating in Russia in 2011 and 2017. True, there is one caveat: This all happened in the fictional universe of the computer shooter “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”.

Source: https://wap.gamersky.com/gl/Content-679854_10.html

At the request of the bank’s security service, bots collect files on their clients on the Internet. True, the virtual villain left the fictional universe back in 2017, after being killed by US intelligence in Dubai. But there is a very real Vitaly Makarov, who really is part of a terrorist group, and is currently wanted by Interpol.

Both Vitaliy and Vladimir Makarov are natives of Kazakhstan and residents of St. Petersburg. Presumably, during a manual verification of a transaction of $ 200,000, bank employees tied together too many independent facts and came to false conclusions. This was followed by an instant request to the police, and the story unfolded in all its glory.

– Our lawyers immediately sent protests to the police, prosecutors and the courts. There is no answer. The prosecutor admitted that they were mistaken. But he said that they do not understand how fundraising works in cryptocurrency and require explanation. For 14 days they have the right not to give any information. Makarov urgently provided a certificate of the lack of a criminal record, the lack of attention to his person from the law enforcement agencies, a tax return and confirmation of the legal source of obtaining funds for investment. He calmly travels to the EU countries, without experiencing any difficulties, as evidenced by the stamps in his passport. According to him, 50 thousand people live in Russia with the name Vladimir Makarov. Now we are losing business, the account does not work, investors send money, which is returned to them. — reported to JA EXPERTS AG back in August 2019

The fact is that cryptocurrencies in Germany received legal status in 2013. But law enforcement officers, apparently, still retained a biased attitude towards all who use them. UFO-House Hotel has been verified by VPE Bank, which acts as an escrow project. And Vladimir Makarov himself performed the verification procedure. But, to the great surprise of the representatives of JA EXPERTS AG, this did not save the company from troubles.

It is worth mentioning separately that the team members were preparing the launch of IEO at HUOBI Prime in August 2019, but the situation with the opening of the criminal case created serious obstacles to the implementation of the plan, and the attraction of investments had to be postponed.

The management did everything possible to solve this situation, which, among other things, could be the result of unfair competition. The German prosecutor’s office carefully checked all the investors and shareholders of the project, the business model, the legality of the project’s blockchain, trying to find inconsistencies with the laws, but in the end, the case was closed due to the lack of corpus delicti, the company’s accounts were unblocked, and the charges against employees were dropped. It is good that JA EXPERTS AG did not wait for the results of the “investigation”, but independently entered the game, which helped to solve a strange and funny situation as soon as possible and with minimal financial losses.

Apparently, the virtual world has been quite tightly integrated into the life of modern society, and it is worth paying tribute to game developers – they are sometimes quite convincing even for the police. In turn, we recommend that you always check the sources of information, and not make hasty conclusions.