A grandmother who lost tens of thousands of dollars that she gave to a Canadian video game geek to invest in cryptocurrency on her behalf has told of her devastation at losing her savings.
Aiden Pleterski, 23, is currently battling bankruptcy proceedings.
He is accused of taking the millions invested in him by speculators and spending 98 percent of the funds on his lavish lifestyle, which saw him jet around the world; buy numerous properties; and keep a garage of supercars including a Lamborghini, McLaren and BMWs.
Pleterski, confronted about why he continued to take money from investors even when he knew that he couldn’t repay his existing clients, told investigators it was because he ‘was a 20-something-year-old kid,’ CBC News reported
Pleterski has not been arrested – and in December claimed that he was kidnapped, held for three days, and tortured before being dumped.
Aiden Pleterski drove at least 10 different sports cars, including a rare McLaren Senna, purchased for over $1 million in September 2021
Diane Moore, 65, invested money intended for her grandchildren’s education with Pleterski. She has lost CA $50,000 ($36,000)
One of Pleterski’s alleged victims, Diane Moore, 65, from Clarington, Ontario, said she invested CA $60,000 ($43,700) after meeting Pleterski through a friend she had known for many years.
The money was intended for her grandchildren’s education, but she lost all but CA $10,000 ($7,300).
‘The whole thing was based on trust,’ she told CBC News last year.
‘What Aiden has done, I think, is awful — and I don’t know how he can live with himself.’
Moore said she was told Pleterski would take 30 percent of any profit, and he guaranteed her original deposit was safe.
‘I don’t know if he was ever really trading,’ Moore said.
‘Or was this his plan and it was just the story to get me in along with other people?’
A bankruptcy trustee said the impact of the alleged fraud was devastating.
‘Some of the stories of the impact that the losses caused by Pleterski’s alleged actions have on creditors are heartbreaking,’ wrote Rob Stelzer, a senior vice-president with Grant Thornton.
Pleterski was in trouble even before his scheme collapsed.
Domestic violence charges were filed against him in Florida on June 9, 2021, when a former girlfriend accused him of attacking her, CTV News reported.
Pleterski is seen in a June 2021 mugshot, after he was charged with domestic violence in Florida. The charges were dropped two weeks later
She had confronted him about photos he had posted to Instagram, and the pair began arguing – a verbal disagreement which she said turned physical.
‘The suspect intentionally grabbed the front of the victim’s shirt with both hands and began to yell at her. This intentional violence was against the victim’s will,’ wrote the deputy who arrived at the house in Davenport, south of Orlando.
She tried to leave, the charging documents state, but he repeatedly blocked the door.
‘The victim stated she did not feel free to leave during this time,’ the affidavit reads.
Charges were dropped by prosecutors two weeks later, on June 22.
A little over a year later, Pleterski’s business facade would also come crashing down.
A Toronto realtor, Sacha Singh, filed court documents requesting the immediate freezing of Pleterski’s accounts – something the court agreed on July 7, 2022.
Singh invested CA $4.56 million ($3.32 million) with Pleterski between April 2021 and January 2022, after being introduced by a friend.
In February 2022, Singh requested a withdrawal of some of the money, but Pleterski was unable to hand it over.
Toronto realtor Sacha Singh invested CA $4.56 million ($3.3m) with Pleterski, and took legal action to try and get it back – which sparked Pleterski’s downfall
Pleterski, 24, is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings as authorities in Canada desperately try to recover the $29 million he allegedly scammed
Singh grew increasingly concerned, and began investigating – learning, along with the friend that introduced them, that Pleterski was lying about some of the bank accounts he claimed to have, and was trying to sell some of his luxury cars.
Singh succeeded in having Pleterski’s accounts frozen, and a month later the floodgates opened as other investors realized they had also been duped.
In August, investors questioned Pleterski for five hours, according to the meeting’s minutes obtained by CBC News.
When asked why he continued to invest money when he knew he couldn’t repay his current investors, Pleterski told the meeting he ‘was a 20-something-year-old kid.’
Pleterski is now believed to have paid for favorable coverage in obscure online news outlets, which bolstered his story of self-made success.
As the authorities try to recoup some of the cash, Pleterski’s father claimed his son was kidnapped in the middle of the night in December and held for three days.
He was supposedly released after a few days – but was told he needed to come up with the money quickly, or else suffer further consequences.
One of the few calls he was allowed to make was to his landlord, who testified that Pleterski called begging him for the millions in ransom payments.
‘I said, ‘There’s absolutely nothing that I can do.’
No suspects have been revealed in the kidnapping and Toronto police did not provide any information on the suspected kidnapper or if any arrests were made.
Pleterski’s parents said they believed their son was operating a successful investment business.
The Canadian ‘crypto king’ posts his glamorous fleet of supercars on his Instagram – including his grey Mclaren 720S with suicide doors, which are on the market for at least $300,000
Pleterski posted images online of his luxury getaways – including holidays on yachts, sailing in the ocean with his friends, and driving around in his flash sports cars
The latest revelations, made by Pleterski’s father in a government report detailing what happened to the funds, are that Pleterski (pictured right) was kidnapped in the middle of the night in December
Pictured: His grey Mclaren 720S being washed. Pleterski has been characterized as having run a ponzi scheme on his clients, with investments made by some clients allegedly used to fake returns for others
He’s also alleged to have spent his millions on a private jet and several luxury vacations
Aiden Pleterski, 23, is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings as authorities in Canada try to recover the $29million he’s accused of scamming out of investors
Pleterski posted a photo to his Instagram account of himself shopping as his followers compliment him on his new fit
‘I knew when he was in high school, he was playing games upstairs on his computer just like any other teenager,’ Pleterski’s father said in December.
The bankruptcy lawyer asks: ‘But at some point, you became aware that he was trading in cryptocurrency?’
‘At some point, yes,’ Pleterski’s father responded.
Stelzer alleged that Pleterski’s parents benefited to the tune of more than $1.1 million from their son’s scheme.
The pair have agreed to return an Audi S5 and a Volkswagen Atlas – with a market value in excess of $100,000 – to the trustee, CTVNews reported.
They will also fork over $812,000 by June 30, in cooperation with the bankruptcy proceedings, the report claims.
Stelzer, the trustee appointed to produce the report, told CTV he received a call from Toronto police in early December about the kidnapping.
‘I mean, obviously, he owes a lot of people a lot of money,’ Stelzer said.
The $29 million may be just the beginning of what Pleterski owes investors, according to attorney Norman Groot, who was hired by some of those scammed by the crypto king.
Groot characterizes Pleterski as having run a ponzi scheme on his clients, with investments made by some clients allegedly used to fake returns for others.
He’s trying to find out just how much Pleterski transferred out of his account, with losses that could be double that $29 million.
Pleterski claimed in 2021 that he lost investments when the crypto market crashed in the fall of that year.
‘In doing so, I guess you could say greed took over, and I was taking very aggressive positions, and I was trying to make returns that obviously weren’t feasible or weren’t necessarily possible at the time, and it just caused more losses,’ he said.
A report by trustees investigating the scheme say Pleterski took the $29 million from investors and said he would invest it in both crypto and foreign currencies.
The trustees claim he invested just about $485,000, or less than two percent of the total funds at hand.
The report alleges he spent approximately $362,000 on a warehouse where he stored the remaining cash.
Videos and photos posted to his Instagram stories and highlights show off his fleet of luxury cars and his private jet trips to Miami.
His extravagant vacations are also documented in the highlights, show the crypto king living his best life on luxury yachts, jet skiing over the bright waters, dining out on wine and oysters with women and friends, and front row seats at concerts.
His 95.2K followers fixated over his every move, complimenting Pleterski and praising his brush with celebrities like Machine Gun Kelly.
He also showed off his yellow Lamborghini Aventador SV – which costs at least $507,000 to purchase. Pleterski would often make sure his 97,000 followers on Instagram knew which new, flash car he was driving
Alongside posting about his supercars, the 23-year-old showed off how he traveled in style with all of the money he earned. He’s believed to have chartered private jets to take him and his friends on lavish holidays
Investigators with the Canadian government are trying to figure out how to recover the millions lost by Pleterski, seen here with Machine Gun Kelly
Pleterski has posted a slew of luxury cars to his Instagram highlights including this yellow Lamb Aventador SV (left) and this red Lamborghini (right)
A 720S grey Mclaren with suicide doors (left) is featured on his Instagram stories along with a Lamborghini STO (right)
Among his fleet of vehicles are two orange sports cars – which the ‘crypto king’ amassed alongside a number of flashy Mclarens and Lamborghinis
It also says Pleterski drove at least 10 different sports cars, including a rare McLaren Senna, purchased for over $1million in September 2021.
Another $700,000 went to the mansion Pleterski lived in, including both rent and a down payment to eventually buy it.
He gave another $940,000 to an associate, while Stelzer claims Pleterski’s parents also got around $800,000 from their son.
Stelzer, the government trustee, wants the properties sold and the money refunded to Pleterski’s investors.
Stelzer has said he believes there are more people who lost money in the scheme and encouraged them to come forward.
‘We know $41 million came into the account net,’ he said.
‘We know only $25 million have filed claims. You can do the math.
‘They should reach out … and get the claim filed. The only way they can participate in a dividend is by doing it.’
Lawyers for Pleterski have yet to comment on the kidnapping allegations.
Pleterski’s lawyer Micheal Simaan previously told CBC Toronto his client disputes many of the claims against him and Pleterski believes the financial claims from many people who gave him money ‘have been wildly exaggerated.’