Exclusive: Steven Reece Lewis, presented to investors with an impressive list of qualifications and achievements, remains unverifiable as no organization referenced can locate any record of his credentials.
A confident revelation sheds light on the deceptive tactics employed to promote the HyperVerse crypto fund. The CEO, Steven Reece Lewis, presented with questionable qualifications, was showcased alongside celebrity endorsements in a concerted effort to lure new investors into the scheme.
An investigation by Guardian Australia in the previous month exposed the financial losses suffered by thousands of individuals involved in the HyperVerse crypto scheme, spearheaded by entrepreneurs Sam Lee and Ryan Xu, former founders of the collapsed Australian bitcoin company Blockchain Global.
Blockchain Global's outstanding debt of $58 million prompted its liquidator to refer Xu and Lee to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for potential breaches of the Corporations Act. Despite the concerns, ASIC has not initiated action at present.
Despite international regulatory red flags labeling HyperVerse as a potential "scam" or "suspected pyramid scheme," it managed to evade scrutiny in Australia.
At the center of the controversy, Steven Reece Lewis, touted as HyperVerse's CEO, was introduced during a global launch event in December 2021. Celebrity endorsements from figures like Steve Wozniak and Chuck Norris followed on Twitter in the subsequent month.
Promotional material linked Reece Lewis to prestigious institutions like the University of Leeds and the University of Cambridge, claiming he held a master's degree. However, Guardian Australia's investigation uncovered that neither university had any record of a person named Steven Reece Lewis.
Additionally, there are no records of Reece Lewis on the UK companies register, Companies House, or the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Contrary to the claim of selling a web development company to Adobe, there is no such acquisition documented in Adobe's public SEC filings since its listing in 1986.
Claims of Reece Lewis working at Goldman Sachs were refuted as no record of his employment was found. Despite promotional material praising his credentials, Guardian Australia failed to find any trace of Reece Lewis on LinkedIn or any online platform, except for HyperVerse promotional material.
A Twitter account purportedly belonging to Reece Lewis was created a month before the HyperVerse video launch, actively promoting the scheme for only six months before going inactive. These revelations cast significant doubt on the legitimacy of HyperVerse and the credibility of its key figures.
HyperVerse emerged at its launch event as the groundbreaking digital metaverse poised to challenge the likes of Facebook. Members were promised an exploration of "the new frontier of a galactic universe" with the opportunity to immerse themselves in a complete virtual world.
In a compelling video presentation, Reece Lewis passionately urged individuals to become early supporters of HyperVerse. He asserted that the company would revolutionize how people live, interact globally, and conduct business by creating a parallel system of existence. Lewis confidently stated, "This metaverse race has just started, so I do strongly urge everyone to join us as an early backer and supporter of this foray into the metaverse era."
Asserting the company's readiness for launch, Lewis added, "In fact, I believe we have done all the research needed, and we are poised to launch something that can truly shine in the years to come."
Investors in HyperVerse were enticed with the opportunity to purchase "memberships" offering minimum returns of 0.5% a day, with a 300% return over 600 days. Additional incentives were provided for recruiting new members.
During the launch video, a HyperVerse "compliance officer" outlined the terms and conditions of membership, emphasizing the company's global compliance while acknowledging the inherent "risk of loss" for participants.
A Chainalysis report estimated that consumer losses to HyperVerse in 2022 totaled US$1.3 billion ($1.92 billion).
Following the online launch, the company released video endorsements from celebrities on the Reece Lewis Twitter account, including Wozniak, Norris, comedian Jim Norton, and boy band singer Lance Bass.
While the source of these celebrity endorsements remains unclear, it is worth noting that all four individuals are available for hire on the Cameo website, allowing people to pay high-profile figures for scripted messages.
Despite reaching out for comment, Guardian Australia received no response from Wozniak, Norris, Norton, and Bass. There is no suggestion that they were aware of HyperVerse's business model during the filming of these endorsements, as they made no reference to money or investments.
‘The problem is I’m not involved’
Several HyperVerse members encountered difficulties withdrawing funds from the scheme in the first half of 2022. They were subsequently advised to transition to a new platform named HyperNation. The May 2022 launch event for HyperNation, featured in a YouTube video, showcased masked promoters known as “Mr H” and “Miss N.” Notably, Reece Lewis was absent from the video, and there was no reference to him.
In the video, “Mr H” proudly identified himself as an “evangelist in the new world order,” presenting both himself and “Miss N” as the “official ambassadors of HyperNation.” During the presentation, "Mr H" critiqued the shortcomings of neoliberalism and emphasized HyperNation's commitment to utilizing new technologies for providing a universal basic income to its citizens.
“I thought I was destined for a meaningless life, but not anymore,” he declared. “As a citizen of HyperNation, I feel liberated and free; I have full autonomy over my finances through decentralized finance, and, most importantly, my self-worth is no longer determined by anyone else.”
The launch video did not feature Lee and Xu, and their names were not mentioned. In a subsequent Zoom meeting with HyperNation members, a senior promoter clarified that HyperNation and HyperVerse were part of the same overarching entity.
“It’s one big entity where you’ve got HyperVerse and HyperNation, which is a new entity within the same setup,” the promoter explained during a Zoom meeting in early 2022 about the HyperNation launch.
This promoter, identified on LinkedIn as a “VIP5 STAR” for the HyperCommunity, the highest ranking based on recruitment into the HyperVerse scheme, emphasized the unity of the two platforms.
When questioned directly about his involvement with HyperNation in a January 2023 Zoom meeting with investors, Lee distanced himself, asserting that he only worked on the funds management and technology aspects of the Hyper schemes.
Regarding the Guardian's inquiries, Lee remained tight-lipped. In a WhatsApp message post-publication, he claimed "misstatements" about his role without specifying them and alleged that individuals online were fabricating information.
Despite further attempts to seek clarification on Lee's involvement in HyperNation and questions about Reece Lewis, Lee provided minimal responses. He stated, “There is no shortage of angry people saying I should have done more, but I’m not a public person and continue to be disturbed by people threatening me for the mistakes they made.”
The Guardian could not verify Reece Lewis’s identity or reach him for comment.