What Exactly is Kuetzal?
Started in November 2018, Kuetzal is a P2P crowdlending investment platform that connects businesses in need of financing with potential investors. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, Kuetzal was founded by Alberts Čevers to offer secure and high-yielding interests and investment opportunities in Europe. Kuetzal had over 3500+ investors and funded over 9 million euros worth of bussinesses, of which some were questionable and some were outright fakes.
Is Kuetzal a Scam? How It All Came To Light
I would like to quote Jørgen from Financiallyfree.eu here, who said it in the most perfect way – “It’s not really a question anymore, it’s more a statement.”
Mid October 2019.
Kuetzal updates Terms & Conditions on the platform. Investors have only one choice and one choice only, to accept the new Kuetzal T&C policy.
Late October 2019 – First worrying signs
Investors start paying attention and reading the new T&C and swiftly find that there is something odd about it.
Carlos from Savings4freedom.com updates his Kuetzal review with key pointers.
Critical Note: In October 2019, Kuetzal announced changes in its terms and services and also changes to the company management. I have been investing in the platform since I meet with the prior CEO, Alberts Cevers, and I’m canceling all new deposits until I’m able to understand what this change means for the platform.
WARNING MESSAGE: before investing, you need to be aware of the following information, that become available by the end of November, beginning of December 2019.
Here is what the new “Kuetzal: Updated Terms & Conditions” looked like
Kuetzal announced changes in its terms and services and also changes to the company management. I have been investing in the platform since I meet with the prior CEO, Alberts Cevers, and I’m canceling all new deposits until I’m able to understand what this change means for the platform.
November 26th 2019 – New CEO Maksims Reutovs
Kuetzal announces new CEO – Maksims Reutovs.
Maksims Reutovs announce that furthermore will lead Kuetzal team and will be responsible for the company development.
Among the most demanded goals that have set for in short-term perspective is to:
- Constantly offer high-yielding projects
- Two-factor authentication to secure investor’s accounts better
- Make several changes in Account Panel to simplify work with the platform
November 29th 2019.
Basil from Harvestingassets.com decides to log into his Kuetzal account and stumbles upon a popup to agree with. It’s the new terms & conditions agreement.
He doesn’t usually read T&C agreements like we all do, but somewhy he decides to skim through it and came across the same worrying points as Carlos did a month ago.
Read Basil’s Kuetzal review for more information:
December 10th 2019 – Fake Petrol Company Alborg Petrol
Oscar Harrington makes a dramatic discovery about Kuetzal and writes an article “Has Kuetzal lent €850,000 to a fake petrol company?”
In the beginning of December 2019, Oscar made a discovery that investors on Kuetzal have lent 850 000€ to a fake petrol company named Alborg Petrol.
What did Oscar find?
- Majority of the text was copied from other company’s site.
- Thanks to a reader named JV, who pointed out that the “Development Manager” of Alborg Petrol, Erik Feldman, is actually a university lecturer called Walter Guttmann. A fake persona!
- The company was just purchased before funds were borrowed from Kuetzal;
- And much more, read for more – https://explorep2p.com/alborg-petrol/
December 11th 2019 – Is Kuetzal a scam?
Jørgen Wolf posts a blog post on the topic of “Concerns about Kuetzal – Is Kuetzal a scam?”
I have been investing with Kuetzal since 13.05.2019, so about 6 months. It’s a much shorter duration than many other platforms in my portfolio. Unfortunately, I keep finding things I don’t like.
Before we get into the details
Despite the concerns listed below, keep these facts in mind as well:
- Most of the projects by Kuetzal seem legit. The concerns mentioned in this post are related to a few specific projects. EDIT: While most projects were “real”, the project owners didn’t know Kuetzal in most cases or there was no signed loan agreement!!
- Repayments from all projects are being paid back to investors according to schedule. EDIT: This is most likely because of the automated software, which doesn’t reflect real transactions.
- Withdrawing money from the platform seems to work, even though there are some delayes. EDIT: I have not heard of any successful withdrawals since medio December.
(EDITS made on 16th January 2020 by Jørgen)
In the article Jørgen lists 8 concerns he has with the Kuetzal P2P platform and explains them thoroughly through his point of view.
For example: Concern no. 8: Viktoria’s husband
Maybe Viktoria didn’t want to meet us, because she’s only the owner on paper? Viktoria’s husband, Andrei Korobeiko, could be in charge of Kuetzal. He was sentenced for money laundry in 2012 (which happened in 2010).
In 2017 he was involved in a minor criminal case, (which happened in 2015). Probably a bar fight or something. (I’m not worried about that one, this happens all the time.)
Even though this is a new concern to add to the list, I’m happy to find out that Kuetzal was not created from a stolen ID. A stolen ID would have indicated clear intentions of fraud, which is much worse than a husband with a less attractive background!
As it is now, Viktoria is actually risking her future if Kuetzal is involved in fraud. If I was a criminal, would I risk putting my wife’s future at risk? Definitely not!
Update: Maybe Andrei is Viktorias ex-husband? He’s single according to his facebook profile.
Read more about Jorgen’s concerns about Kuetzal:
December 18th 2019.
Jørgen from FinanciallyFree.eu and two other investors meet with Maksims. Maksims started in Kuetzal less than 14 days ago. He doesn’t know much at all and the visitors are not satisfied by his answers.
I and two other investors met Maksims today. He started in Kuetzal less than 14 days ago and didn’t know all details about the projects yet. We were not impressed by his answers.
One thing he did say was, that the Latvian employees of Kuetzal followed Alberts to his new job. So Kuetzal will move their office to Tallinn now, to be closer to the owner, Viktoria Gortsak.
He agreed to a second meeting with the owner of Kuetzal tomorrow morning in Tallinn. She knows more about the projects and should provide better answers. Unfortunately, I am not able to attend the meeting but I have have a good friend who is going for me.
He’ll report back to me tomorrow. I’ll let you know when we know more.
December 19th 2019 – More questions emerge about Kuetzal
Rumours are flying around about the real people behind Kuetzal are.
Jørgen, who doesn’t take rumours serisouly, decides to stick to the facts only.
However, I’ve heard the rumors from different independent sources and I don’t like what I hear.
Kuetzal might keep paying everyone for a while, or maybe forever, I’m not sure.
Something smells very fishy and I only want to do business or invest with honest transparent people who keep their promises. In my book, Kuetzal failed this task and I have zero trust in them anymore.
Also, Jørgen was stood up on the second meeting, which was supposed to be in Tallinn with Viktoria.
My friend/follower from Berlin asked if he could have breakfast with Maksims and Viktoria in Tallinn. He was going to be in Tallinn tomorrow anyway and would love to meet her. Maksims agreed to that and said he was welcome to join their meeting.
Despite several attempts to get in touch with Maksims, my friend did not hear much from Maksims again.
As we expected, neither Maksims nor Viktoria showed up.
Furthermore an update is made to Jørgen’s blog article called “Kuetzal review – Business/project based Crowdlending” that reads:
I have made a buyback and withdrawal request and I will exit if possible, even with a loss. I cannot recommend Kuetzal until I have seen proof that the owner, Viktoria actually exists.
Oscar Harrington from ExploreP2P posts an article “More questions emerge about Kuetzal.“
Major points that Oscar points out in his article:
- Kuetzal admitted that it is having banking issues;
- The previous Kuetzal team has left. The Riga office is closed;
- The CEO was unable to address any of the issues raised;
- It isn’t clear who really owns the business;
- One meeting was cancelled, and the other was almost cancelled.
Where does this leave Kuetzal’s investors?
We don’t like to say it, but in our view – in a really bad position. It looks to us that right now there is no office, banking issues, a lack of employees, many questionable loans, a mysterious owner, and no answers. We have also seen Kuetzal introduce changes to their terms and conditions recently stating that they take no responsibility to perform any due diligence, or to operate the platform. That’s a huge red flag to us.
December 27th 2019.
Georg from Crowdlendingrocks.eu publishes/renews an article titled “Why I do not invest with Kuetzal. Scam, incompetence or just too many red flags? Here are my concerns.”
So what is stopping Kuetzal from just declaring bankruptcy if you get into a situation where the money in the company cannot cover the buyback? How can investors be sure that your own personal funds will cover?
Well, it is a question of trust. So nothing basically is stopping us from doing that, except that I am not that kind of a person who would do something like that. So it is a matter of trust in the company.
Eelis from thewealthyfinn.com publishes an article “Kuetzal is having a crisis and I’m pulling the plug.“
What I’m doing
Having thought about this over Christmas, I’ve decided to pull the plug. I’m not convinced that Kuetzal is a scam just yet, but even still, the turmoil around the company can make it more difficult for them to operate:
- More difficult to hire a new team
- More difficult to attract investors
- Potentially impossible to meet their promises, increasing risks of insolvency.
- Very stressful to run day-to-day operationsSo for me, how the situation has escalated has been the tipping point. It’s turned my outlook for the platform. Combined with blatant inexperience, project oddities and suspicious ownership, I have decided the return is not in line with the risk any more.My investments haven’t been among the suspicious ones and I would’ve been fine waiting those projects out. But the situation is very different to when I made those decisions.
December 30th 2019.
Ido from Colminey.com releases an article “Envestio news”. The article also includes questions about the Kuetzal scam.
Your competitor platform Kuetzal is currently undergoing a large-scale crisis involving potentially fraudulent projects, a change of management, mysterious owners with a history of financial crime etc. There is very high likelihood that we are witnessing the first collapse of a Baltic crowdfunding platform right now. While the timing is coincidental, some investors are already drawing similarities between the severe issues on Kuetzal and some of the recent changes to Envestio.
If you are unable to convince investors that everything about Envestio, its management and its ownership is 100% legitimate and transparent – the panic from Kuetzal will inevitably spread to Envestio, whether justified or not. This is a crucial time that requires heavy media presence, detailed and honest responses, and an increase in transparency.
I am very happy to see a change in tone from Envestio with regards to crisis management, and personally feel that the only immediate danger to Envestio right now is investor panic.
January 5-6th 2020 – Investors Beware!
Angelo from P2Pinvesting.eu uploads a YouTube video + an article about “Kuetzal – What You NEED To Know (Investors Beware!)”
Why Angelo never invested on Kuetzal?
Personally, I never added the platform to my portfolio, as I had a bad gut feeling from the beginning. Mostly because of the young, inexperienced CEO. That’s also why I didn’t take a closer look to begin with.
Looking back, I’m sorry I didn’t share my initial thoughts with you. I really hope it’s all going to end well.
January 8th 2020 – Kuetzal bank accounts frozen due to AML
Investors are demanding answers and Kuetzal finally replies, by saying that their bank accounts have been frozen due to AML procedures.
Jørgen from Financiallyfree.eu sees that Kuetzal has updated their about page and Maksims is the only one listed.
He then turns to Maksims in LinkedIn to check what is going on.
Reply from European Crowdfunding Network:
Reply from TotalGames (borrower of Total Poker and Goodville):
How can Kuetzal raise money for a project without a signed agreement by the borrower?
January 9th 2020 – ECN warns about Kuetzal
ECN reports Kuetzal to National Conduct Authorty – https://eurocrowd.org/2020/01/09/ecn-reports-kuetzal-to-national-conduct-authorty/
Oliver from ECN:
ECN has over the past weeks repeatedly been contacted by concerned investors in lending-based crowdfunding platform Kuetzal, Estonia. It has become apparent that at least since a change in management in the second half of 2019 the operations of the platform is lacking in its response and conduct with investors. ECN has reached out to the platform’s new management for clarification but did not receive satisfactory information that would clarify the situation. ECN cannot not judge if the platform has acted inappropriate toward its investors.
We hope that the situation at Kuetzal is temporary and wish both investors and platform a quick and positive solution.
Jørgen from Financiallyfree.eu receives a message from TotalGames, but due to language barrier, he has mixed feelings about the situation with Kuetzal and TotalGames.
Maybe the situation with Kuetzal and TotalGames isn’t as bad after all… Communication is a tough task, especially when English is not the native country of most people in Europe.
I received answers to my follow up questions to TotalGames. This is his response. What do you think?
Furthermore, Jørgen creates a Telegram group for comments regarding Kuetzal – https://t.me/KuetzalDiscussion
January 10th 2020.
Wisefund reacts to the Kuetzal’s situation by spending extra time to check even deeper on each of existing application they’ve received.
January 11th 2020 – More concerns emerge
Oscar from Explorep2p.com lists more concerns about Kuetzal:
Over recent days a significant amount of work has been conducted by a group of Kuetzal investors, to investigate the legitimacy of loans listed on the site. We have been following their progress and will report on any significant new findings. One significant finding to emerge relates to one of the largest loans – ‘Row House in Marupe‘ with borrower AA Development. This is a loan of almost €600,000, and it was meant to be funding the construction of 4 houses in the Marupe area of Riga.
The registered owner of the company is Eugene Koshakov. Kuetzal described him as ‘CEO and Founder’. However records show that he became the registered owner only shortly before the loan went live on the Kuetzal platform. So who is the actual founder of this company? Public records show that it was Evelina Milus. Evelina Milus (now Evelina Cevers) is the wife of Alberts Cevers, the CEO of Kuetzal at the time the loan was originated. This was not disclosed and gives us significant concerns about what has taken place.
A Kuetzal investor has been able to provide a loan agreement that contains the cadastral reference number for the land that AA Development was meant to be building the row houses on. Public records show that this land is not even owned by AA Development, and that land has a registered mortgage secured over it in favour of a bank. Records also show that there are also no commercial pledges registered on the shares of AA Development in favour of Kuetzal (as would be expected at an absolute minimum).
A visit was made to this land site earlier today and (unsurprisingly) no construction work has been started at this location.
So in summary it seems that Kuetzal investors are left with no collateral at all, and a loan to a company that has close links to the former CEO of the business.
January 12th 2020 – Kuetzal shuts down
Kuetzal sends out an email to all of the registered investor accounts announcing platform’s wind-down.
Oscar from ExploreP2P publishes an interview with the controversial “Roasted Peerduck”.
Roasted Peerduck is an anonymous Twitter account that was launched in November 2019.
Roasted Peerduck has been helping us with some of our Kuetzal investigations behind the scenes. Due to the dramatic events that have followed, the duck has been getting inundated with messages from concerned investors in Kuetzal as well as other sites. We therefore thought that it would make sense to cover and publish answers to the topics that are frequently coming up in these messages.
Oscar also asked Roasted Peerduck the most important question. “Kuetzal was forced to close down today. What do you think will happen now? Do you think much money can be recovered for investors?”
Nobody closes business on a Sunday. The simplest explanation – kids finally managed to scroll down chats where you started to look for borrowers and decide to react in traditional clumsy way. A time-buying letter – I have seen dozen times the same story with financial scammers. There are no names under it, as it would be in real-life situation of operation shutoff; there is no representative appointed etc. It just some text saying – keep calm and wait. The style the letter is written in actually differs from what I have seen before. Maybe it is already a hired lawyer job in progress, to build-up a defense lines.
I don’t want to speculate about amounts [of recovery] as I have no info how many of the projects were in fact real (1) and will turn profitable (2). My guess: 2 or 3 at best. So you will be able to return some of your investments minus the appointee fee who will deal with it. Don’t expect to receive interest though. Regarding money that were stolen – you will receive nothing. It is all gone and wasted, apart [from] some miserable residual amounts on both bank accounts.
Kuetzal is a closed case. People won’t be fooled so easy next time, I hope. Soon you realize most of the projects were either scams, either goofy business ideas of Alberts retinue. The money was spent on luxurious life, brand new BMW X6 and so on. Of course, he is a kid who would never come out with the ideas how to launder the stolen money and conduct complex money flee schemes. All in all somebody advised him to use a dummy rather than go himself as a director from the begging (and provided one). However, the total inability to do a comprehensive exit-move (the crucial part in every scam) indicates that the professional help could be limited by helping to cover stolen, rather than full scam setup (for a considerable % of course). For me it looks too ignominiously unprofessional and, probably, the financial crime community is having fun of them together with mainstream financial. I bet the money is either gone into eastern European countries with junk companies either spent. So it is highly possible, that the only real beneficiaries from the scam were “laundering service providers”, charging a goofy boy for their services and now totally careless what will happen next with spoilt kid. At least he had a chance to drive a fancy new car for a year, you know. Will he go to prison? It depends. I was totally sure he would flee to Russia or else until I didn’t spot him in Riga wondering around. But the shit will hit the fan, definitely.
Read the rest of the interview here – https://explorep2p.com/rpeerduck/
January 15th 2020 – Envestio reacts to panic
January 16th 2020 – 2 more fake projects emerge
Project “Anniņmuižas bulvāris” was financed by EstateGuru, NOT Kuetzal. Someone called borrower and asked about the situation. The borrower told that they had discussions with Kuetzal, but thats all.. They haven’t got any money and there’s no agreement.
Same story with Project “Velox”: “Thanks for your inquiry! I’m the director of a company SIA Velox Latvija, but this is the first time I’ve seen these companies and announcements! We are not familiar with companies Kuetzal or AA Development. I’ll try to figure out tomorrow what it is! But it looks like some kind of fraud!”
January 20th 2020 – Kuetzal scam makes it to the news
First news article by Delfi. The article is named “Kahtlased tehingud viisid Eesti ühisrahastusplatvormi sulgemiseni“, which translated to English “Suspicious transactions led to the closure of the Estonian crowdfunding platform”.
The article basically includes similar information, which is displayed here or published by the bloggers, who are quoted.
Second news article from Rahageenius. Article headline “Investorite kriitika alla sattunud Eesti ühisrahastusplatvorm pani uksed kinni”, English “Estonian crowdfunding platform under investor criticism closed doors”.
Third news article from Majandus24. Article headline “Investorid süüdistavad Eesti ühisrahastusplatvormi pettuses”, English version “Investors blame Estonian crowdfunding platform of fraud”.
The most important line from the article is that “Prosecutor’s Office initiated criminal proceedings”.
Fourth article from Äripäev. Article headline “Portaal hullutas investoreid ja sai rahapesusüüdistuse”, English version “Portal maddened investors and received money laundering charges”
Fifth article from Lesinfos. “Kuetzal: two alleged fraudsters disappeared with two million euros”.
Sixth article from ERR. “Estonian Financial Supervision and Resolution Authority begins overseeing crowdfunding platforms”.
“The Treasury Department wants to empower the Estonian Financial Supervision and Resolution Authority to start overseeing crowdfunding platforms, as it is an increasingly popular area where fraud schemes are also moving. One example is the case released on Monday of a crowdfunding platform on Kuetzal, where people who have invested are likely to lose their money.”
“‘Now, since it has also been agreed in the European Union that this area should be regulated, obviously next year, a regulation will be drafted. /… / This means that the Estonian Financial Supervision and Resolution Authority can be empowered to carry out supervision of single currency platforms, which also means that first of all, a licence should be requested from the Estonian Financial Supervision and Resolution Authority to provide such a service at all, “the honourable explained.”
“We also estimate that this area needs regulation and we are also currently in the process of drafting the relevant bill,” said Auväärt.
January 21st 2020 – Envestio releases a statement
January 22nd 2020 – Criminal case against Kuetzal started
“Estonian Prosecutor’s Office has started a criminal case against a crowdfunding platform that has ceased operations”.
January 27th 2020 – The Ministry of Finanance
Ministry of Finance expert Thomas Auväärt:
Although the first crowdfunding platforms emerged in Estonia more than a decade ago, the country has no overview of them, let alone regulations.
What are the steps you should do as an investor regarding the Scam?
Thecoinrise.com suggestions – https://thecoinrise.com/envestio-scam-how-to-make-million-of-investments-disappear-2/
Step 1 – Seeking a response from the team
- It seems clear by now that no one from Envestio intends to reply to emails or social media messages.
- So far, one member of the group tried to locate Envestio’s old office without success.
- Another possible course of action is to physically locate the people themselves in order to ask for a response or notify the police of their location. People living in the region are welcome to use their connections to get more info.
- Do not do anything threatening or illegal. We are only seeking a response or a destination for authorities/lawyers.
Step 2 – Reporting to the authorities
- Please list and link to the relevant Latvian and Estonian authorities and departments.
- We should find the exact legal offence that we intend to report.
- We should decide between bombarding the authorities with reports or sending a combined report by many investors.
Step 3 – Legal action
- Anyone with legal knowledge or experience is welcome to share her or his thoughts on the right approach to others: What exactly are we suing Envestio Scam for, and how.
- If you are involved in the proceedings against Kuetzal, share insights and progress from that endeavour.
Also, make sure to join Telegram “KuetzalDiscussion”. There are a lot of investors out there, just like you and that the place, where they hang out. Posting news articles, information and even gathering information for a lawsuit againt Kuetzal.
As more information rises from the ashes, I will be making constant updates to this article. Meanwhile, you are more than welcomed to join the Telegram group “KuetzalDiscussion” – https://t.me/KuetzalDiscussion.
I personally did not invest on Kuetzal, but I feel terrible for the investors who did. Are you one of them? How big was your portfolio at Kuetzal? What actions are you going to take? Leave a comment in the comment section below and keep me and other investors up to date.