Freewallet org. This cryptocurrency wallet has defrauded hundreds of customers. According to our estimates, the victims of this fraudulent project lost more than $8,000,000. The main method of stealing money: groundless blocking of accounts under the guise of KYC. The second common method of fraud is the “disappearance” of transactions (after which the coins go to third-party wallets).
Cryptopay. This cryptocurrency exchange is scamming traders. When placing advertisements with low fees, Cryptopay scammers “forget” to mention that the client will not be able to withdraw money from the account.
Cryptopay and Freewallet are two of the largest fraudulent projects on the cryptocurrency market. And as it turned out, the same people are behind both services. Today we will tell you about the owners and managers of two of the most notorious cryptocurrency scams of 2023.
The first person worth mentioning on our list is Dmitry Andreevich Gunyashov. This man was born in 1988 in St. Petersburg (at that time Leningrad), where he is registered to this day. However, on Dmitry’s official Facebook page it is indicated that he lives in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. At the same time, Dmitry does not hide his affiliation with the top management of Cryptopay. Both the official documents of the service and its personal pages indicate that Gunyashov is the co-founder and head of Cryptopay. As for Freewallet, there are no such mentions in the public space. But we will talk about this aspect a little later.
In addition to Cryptopay and Freewallet, Gunyashov can be associated with two more projects, although not cryptocurrency ones:
- Online store selling iPhones in St. Petersburg. Founded in 2012. He worked for several months, because Gunyashov obviously realized that he couldn’t make a business out of retail sales of smartphones. Then he began working on his cryptocurrency projects.
- Foundation for the Development of Russian Martial Arts. In this organization, Dmitry is not listed as a founder or leader, and most likely did not take a significant part in the activities. But Gunyashov’s cell phone is still listed in the contact list of the “Martial Arts Center” financed by the foundation.
As we can see, Dmitry does not have any solid background that would allow him to become the head of one of the leading crypto projects. He did not distinguish himself either in the field of IT or in the field of finance. Why did Gunyashov manage to get thousands of clients for his applications and websites?
The answer is simple: Gunyashov created a kind of financial pyramid in which old victims “pay” for attracting new ones. Moreover, unlike conditional MMMs and other “classic” scams, neither Freewallet nor Cryptopay give even a hint of the risk of losing money. The scheme is quite simple, but very effective:
- The client creates an account (Freewallet wallet or account on the Cryptopay exchange).
- He deposits money into the balance (tokens, coins, and in the case of an exchange, fiat).
- Under the pretext of a technical failure or as part of the KYC policy, the victim’s account is blocked. Moreover, from the very beginning the user does not have private keys, so the user cannot withdraw assets.
- Some of the victims’ money is appropriated by scammers, and some is used for aggressive marketing promotion of the wallet and exchange.
Both Freewallet org and Cryptopay have extremely bad reputations in the crypto community. This is what one of the largest review sites writes about the “exchange”.
And this is how the Monero community bot on Reddit reacts to any posts containing the Freewallet keyword. As you can see, both services have a reputation for being fraudulent.
But with the money of the victims, Gunyashov and his assistants buy positive reviews and convince readers that all the mistakes that happened to clients are an unfortunate accident. As a result, advertising attracts new customers who also lose their savings.
Like Gunyashov, Vasily Vyacheslavovich Meshcheryakov was born in Leningrad. This happened in 1984. Like Gunyashov, Meshcheryakov has no “history”. Vasily did not publish any information about his education or information about any successful startups.
However, according to information from open sources, it is not difficult to understand what role Meshcheryakov plays in the group of fraudulent owners of Freewallet and Cryptopay.
Back in 2016, Vasily became the founder of a telegram channel and blog dedicated to video games. The ability to work with a young, computer-savvy audience helped Vasily think through the concept of “promoting” Freewallet and Cryptopay. So today it is he who is responsible in the company for PR and media promotion of the fraudulent schemes created by Gunyashov.
Meshcheryakov’s wife, Natalya Vladimirovna Ogneva, is another possible member of the group. It would be wrong to directly accuse her of involvement in fraudulent schemes. But it is worth noting that Natalya has worked in the field of marketing IT projects for more than 10 years. Her last place of work is listed as i-Free, one of the largest digital businesses in Russia. And although Ognevaya’s position is very modest (manager), it was she who organized a number of media projects for the company, including a series of lectures. Therefore, we can assume that she also had a hand in the successful marketing moves of Freewallet and Cryptopay.
However, Meshcheryakov’s activities are not limited to Cryptopay and Freewallet. Since 2017, Vasily has held the position of General Director of the Russian company Dioram. As stated on the company’s official website, “our mission is to bring the latest computer vision technologies that can help people from laboratories to homes and to the streets.” At the same time, the Dioram company receives funding from the state budget. For example, in 2018, as part of government procurement for one of the museums, Dioram LLC was supposed to supply equipment worth almost 1.5 million rubles.
If we talk about Freewallet, the official co-founder and project manager is Estonian citizen Alvin Hagg. But on a number of resources, Freewallet victims have repeatedly wondered why Mr. Hagg himself shied away from public events, although it would seem that the leader of such a project should have participated as actively as possible in conferences and seminars. According to commentators, the reason may be trivial – Alvin does not understand IT, and only serves as a nominal director. Therefore, in order not to demonstrate the incompetence of the “leader,” posts are published on websites and pages in his name. But the “founder” of Freewallet himself avoids publicity.
In addition, other people may be involved in the activities of CryptoPay and Freewallet.
Brother of Dmitry Gunyashov. This guy doesn’t have much commercial talent. The maximum in which he showed himself was in advertising dubious investment projects reminiscent of a financial pyramid, only a very primitive one. For example, in 2020, he invited clients to invest money in the Integrity Farm project, related to growing plants in vertical farms. Gunyashov could not offer anything other than promises of great prospects and income, so most likely, if there were investments in such a pyramid, their amount would not be comparable to the losses from the activities of Freewallet and Cryptopay.
This man often pops up in photographs and discussions of Gunyashov. But there are no publicly available materials where Makhno advertises fraudulent services. Therefore, Anton’s affiliation with Freewallet and Cryptopay is still in doubt.
How Freewallet and Cryptopay are related
Now we come to the analysis of the main issue of our material. Is there a connection between the Freewallet and Cryptopay projects, and if so, what is it?
First of all, the similarity of the projects is indicated by the scheme of their earnings, or more precisely, by the method of deceiving clients. Both Freewallet and Cryptopay position themselves as legal services that provide basic services in the field of cryptocurrencies. Freewallet is a “safe cryptocurrency wallet”, Cryptopay is a payment service and crypto exchange.
At the same time, clients of both applications are massively complaining about deception on the part of the administration. Their transactions disappear, the security service blocks accounts under false pretexts, and technical support ignores requests for help.
Company representatives answer all complaints evasively: “Perhaps there was a failure, we will definitely sort it out.”
Even the style of the reviews is very similar, as if the same people are posting comments under different names.
In addition, there is a lot of evidence online that Gunyashov and Meshcheryakov are involved in Freewallet. Some of them appeared in a discussion about Internet fraud on the Reddit platform.
Based on this, we can say confidently:
- Dmitry Gunyashov is not only the owner of the fraudulent exchange Cryptopay, but also the real founder (or co-founder) of the Freewallet project.
- Vasily Meshcheryakov (possibly together with his wife Natalya Ogneva) is engaged in marketing promotion of projects. In addition, Meshcheryakov also has a personal business aimed at audiences from Russia.
- Alvin Hagg, Alexey Gunyashov, Anton Makhno and other people may be involved in fraudulent activities. In particular, Hagg, being the nominal leader of Freewallet, is certainly responsible for the theft of client assets. But in order to identify all those involved, it is necessary to conduct an investigation, since only the enormity of the scams under the names Freewallet and Cryptopay is obvious from open sources.