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 provide payment services for online shops. PAYVISION has been granted a licence as a Payment Institution under the Payment Services Directive (PSD) for the Dutch Central Bank. The PSD is an E.U. regulation to aid the industry in facilitating transactions across Europe more efficiently and with more transparency. The PSD licence is granted to organizations that comply with a comprehensive set of rules and obligations to ensure the quality and stability of the international payment sector. So PAYVISION has the legal privilege to enable online shops to accept credit card payments and acts as acquiring partner for the operating companies (merchants) of the websites. The financial flows go through specially established vehicles 1)Stichting Trusted Third Party Payvision and Stichting Trusted Third Party or Acapture. The files for the criminal proceedings of Gal BARAK (the infamous Wolf of Sofia) and Uwe LENHOFF show that PAYVISION B.V. processed most of the victims’ card payments for these scams. The illegal files show that PAYVISION was also involved in other big scams. So we are convinced that like WIRECARD, PAYVISION was a PSP mainly 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 the implementation of its FINTECH strategy, ING acquired 75% of the shares in the start-up PAYVISION in spring 2018 at a valuation of EUR 360 million, based primarily on the highly positive business development of the company.
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, Lottopalace. These scams ripped off thousands of unsuspecting European consumers. The criminal proceedings against Uwe LENHOFF were opened in Vienna, Austria and afterwards handed over to Saarbrücken, Germany. As of July 5 2020, Uwe LENHOFF was found dead in his cell in Saarbrücken.
Gal BARAK was arrested in Sofia, Bulgaria, as of January 29, 2019. Gal BARAK operated boiler rooms, and the investment scams xtraderFx, OptionStarsGlobal and others. Gal BARAK was found guilty as of September 1, 2020, for 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 statements 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)
So summarizing, 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 the merchants and contractual partners of PAYVISION have been shell companies, with nominee directors and nominee shareholders (straw men).
Although these straw men signed the service agreements between PAYVISION according to the straw men’s interrogations, there were neither any communication nor meetings between PAYVISION and them. Uwe LENHOFF and the Israeli Gal BARAK agreed on all conditions about the service agreements with PAYVISION’s board members directly.
Close personal and business relationships between BOOKER and Uwe LENHOFF – a known scammer
BOOKER and LENHOFF had a close private relationship (joint skiing holiday). According to the tapped telephone logs between BOOKER and LENHOFF, PAYVISION terminated the acquiring contracts with the fraudulent brands in December 2018, BOOKER and LENHOFF kept talking about business until the end of January 2019. LENHOFF got 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 got victimized, cardholders initiated chargebacks. BOOKER stated that although the chargeback rate was high, Gal BARAK achieved around 65% and Uwe LENHOFF about 40% of repayments successfully combated. PAYVISION’s 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 – 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 did the card processing for many more scammers.
Warnings from European Supervisory Authorities
There had already been warnings published by various financial market supervisory authorities against the fraud schemes from 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 Uwe LENHOFF 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 already about the kind of business PAYVISION was in, 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 having been ripped off and having 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 enabling them to big style fraud.
We filed a money laundering complaint against PAYVISION already in summer 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 (claim letter here) and UWE LENHOFF (claim letter here) as enclosed from 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: https://smnweekly.com/2016/12/28/italys-consob-warns-of-ayrex-option888-binary-options-brokers-broker-yard-forex-broker/ (dated December 28, 2016); FCA warns against Option888 and its merchants https://smnweekly.com/2016/12/28/italys-consob-warns-of-ayrex-option888-binary-options-brokers-broker-yard-forex-broker/ (dated May 2018); FMA warns against Option888 https://www.fma.gv.at/capital-force-ltd-option888/https://www.fma.gv.at/capital-force-ltd-option888/(dated 25. November 2017).