PAYVISION B. V. was a huge PSP for scammers (Part I)

Payvision a huge PSP for scammers

PAYVISION B. V. was a huge PSP for scammers (Part I)

PAYVISION B.V. was the primary payment service provider for big scammers

PAYVISION B.V., registered in Amsterdam, is a payment service provider founded in 2002 by Rudolf BOOKER and his partners to offer payment services to online shops. PAYVISION has been granted a license as a Payment Institution under the Payment Services Directive (PSD) by the Dutch Central Bank. The PSD is a European Union regulation designed to enhance the efficiency and transparency of European transactions within the industry. The PSD license is awarded to organizations that comply with a comprehensive set of rules and obligations, ensuring the quality and stability of the international payment sector. Consequently, PAYVISION has the legal privilege to enable online shops to accept credit card payments and serves as an acquiring partner for these websites’ operating companies (merchants). Financial transactions flow through specially established entities, namely, Stichting Trusted Third Party PAYVISION and Stichting Trusted Third Party ACAPTURE.

The documents related to the criminal proceedings of individuals such as Gal BARAK (the infamous Wolf of Sofia) and Uwe LENHOFF indicate that PAYVISION B.V. processed a significant portion of the victims’ card payments in these scams. These criminal files also reveal PAYVISION’s involvement in other major scams. As a result, we are convinced that similar to WIRECARD, PAYVISION primarily functioned as a payment service provider processing card payments for scammers.

The sole beneficial owner of PAYVISION is ING Group B.V (one of the largest banks worldwide). As part of implementing its FINTECH strategy, ING acquired 75% of the shares in the start-up PAYVISION in spring 2018 at a valuation of EUR 360 million; This valuation was primarily based on PAYVISION’s solid business performance and growth.


Relevant criminal proceedings

In January 2019, the Austrian and German law enforcement agencies arrested Uwe LENHOFF. They charged him with fraud for being the beneficial owner of the boiler room scams Option888, ZoomTraderGlobal, Tradovest, and Lottopalace. These scams ripped off thousands of unsuspecting European consumers. The criminal proceedings against Uwe LENHOFF were opened in Vienna, Austria, and afterward handed over to Saarbrücken, Germany. On July 5, 2020, Uwe LENHOFF was found dead in his cell in Saarbrücken.

Gal BARAK was arrested in Sofia, Bulgaria, on January 29, 2019. Gal BARAK operated boiler rooms and investment scams such as xtraderFx, OptionStarsGlobal, etc. Gal BARAK was found guilty on September 1, 2020, of severe commercial fraud and money laundering. Gal BARAK was sentenced to 4 years in jail in Vienna, Austria. Read more here.


Based on statements of  Uwe LENHOFF and Gal BARAK in the criminal case 2) in Vienna, Austria, as well as from reports of BOOKER (also to be found in the criminal file), we can prove that PAYVISION processed the card payments for the following scams starting with 2015:

  • Option888, ZoomTraderGlobal, Tradovest, Lottopalace, (2015 – 2018)
  • XTraderFX, OptionStarsGlobal, Safemarkets, Goldenmarkets (2016 – 2019)
  • EasyTrade, Binary Options (beneficial owners not yet known) (extent of payments unknown)
  • AlgoTechs/BEALGO (beneficial owners not yet known) (extent of payments unknown)
  • GetFinancial (extent of victims deposit unknown)
  • 24Option (extent of victims deposit unknown)

We have proof that PAYVISION was a huge PSP for scammers harming people worldwide.

In December 2018, PAYVISION terminated the service agreements with Gal BARAK and Uwe LENHOFF due to adverse public reporting on the fraud systems on the Fintelegram website.


Accusations against PAYVISION: supporting fraud and massive money laundering

All PAYVISION’s merchants and contractual partners have been shell companies with nominee directors and shareholders (straw men).

According to their interrogations, although these straw men signed the service agreements between PAYVISION  and them, there was neither communication nor meeting between them. Uwe LENHOFF and the Israeli Gal BARAK agreed on all conditions of the service agreements directly with PAYVISION’s board members.


Close personal and business relationships between BOOKER and Uwe LENHOFF – a known scammer

BOOKER and LENHOFF had a close private relationship (joint skiing holidays). According to the tapped telephone logs between BOOKER and LENHOFF, PAYVISION terminated the acquiring contracts with the fraudulent brands in December 2018. Nevertheless, BOOKER and LENHOFF kept talking about business until the end of January 2019. They met in London in January 2019, only a few days before LENHOFF got arrested. LENHOFF was arrested on January 24, 2019.

Total stolen money processed by PAYVISION2)

Accordingly, the companies attributed to Uwe LENHOFF  platforms generated a total turnover (stolen money) of EUR 55,646,534.79 with PAYVISION. The companies and brands attributed to Gal BARAK show a total turnover of EUR 75,610,779.87 with PAYVISION. When the victims understood that they had been victimized,  cardholders initiated chargebacks. BOOKER stated that although the chargeback rate was high, Gal BARAK achieved around 65%, and Uwe LENHOFF successfully combated about 40% of repayments. PAYVISION charged high fees for these chargebacks. Later, a “single rate” was introduced, including the commission and chargeback fees. So, BOOKER was aware of all the chargebacks by the distressed victims, but he did not care.

The amounts stated only cover the deposits from Uwe LENHOFF and Gal BARAK’s scams processed by PAYVISION B.V. By now; we know that PAYVISION processed the cards for many more scammers.


Warnings from European Supervisory Authorities

Various financial market supervisory authorities had already published warnings against the fraud schemes of Uwe LENHOFF and Gal BARAK from 2016 onwards (see below), but PAYVISION ignored all of them. On the contrary, BOOKER urged Uwe LENHOFF to sign a referral agreement with him, providing him with a fee for other scam referrals—LENHOFF got arrested before that happened.


The reward for the founders and board of PAYVISION for being a PSP for scammers

In September 2019, ING bought the remaining 25% share in PAYVISION. ING must have known about the kind of business PAYVISION was in already, so they “rewarded” BOOKER and his partners with even more money.

At the same time, hundreds and thousands of unsuspecting European consumers have suffered from being ripped off and lost their life savings to scammers with the support of PAYVISION.


Actions of EFRI

In our opinion, PAYVISION is Netherland’s Wirecard—a PSP for scammers that enables them to commit big-style fraud.

We filed a money laundering complaint against PAYVISION in the summer of 2019 (except for a receipt confirmation, we have not received a reply).

We requested the restitution of the payments to the victims from GAL BARAK  and UWE LENHOFF as enclosed in PAYVISION.

1) Although Stichting Trusted Third Party Payvision and Stichting Trusted Third Party Acapture are not a subsidiary of Payvision Holding, they are consolidated.

2) 9 ST 16/19p- 116

3] CONSOB warning against Option888 and its operators: (dated December 28, 2016); FCA warns against Option888 and its merchants (dated May 2018); FMA warns against Option888 25. November 2017).