This is an open letter to IRTA, regarding the ongoing Tradeqoin fraud, a failed business operated by an IRTA Board Member, brazenly misrepresenting its performance AND having solicited funds from the public by way of Crowdfunding on the back of such misrepresentations. I plead with them to act to stop the rot, before more muck comes out in public and more people lose money as a result of the scam being conducted within their own ranks.
I write to inform you, even though I know that you already know this all, of a fraud that is currently being conducted by one of your members, indeed one of your Board Members at that!
Tradeqoin is a Fraud
This fraudulent Trade Exchange is called Tradeqoin, the flagship commercial Trade Exchange of self appointed Complementary Currency “experts” Qoin, from the Netherlands. Their representative is a man whom you know VERY well, Rob van Hilten, an IRTA Board Member whom also (as you all very well know) was appointed to the Board without actually having a Trade Exchange – all contrary to IRTA rules!
As you also know very well, I have been blogging extensively about this fraud commencing early October 2014, when I issued a PUBLIC WARNING about the Tradeqoin operation. In this warning I stated that:
- Tradeqoin misrepresented its membership numbers, both by reasonable, casual methodologies and particualrly IRTA’s own Rules of Membership measurement – indeed, substantially
- “[Tradeqoin is] actually a poorly structured business with a seriously flawed business model.”
- “Tradeqoin is another business modelled after Rob van Hilten’s and Edgar Kampers’ previous business failures which exist only because of expensive public-funding.”
- “From Day One the TQ Currency will be butchered, with deficit spending occurring before the first trade takes place by way of payments to investors.”
I detailed three areas of concern, deliberately applying the word “scam” when I said:
The Tradeqoin scam has three areas of concern:
- Mis-representation of the past multiple business failures,
- Incomplete and inaccurate information on their present business and
- Wild projections of future performance and Return On Investment (ROI).
In researching the Tradeqoin Trade Exchange, my findings were that:
- Only six percent of current members intend to stay on and take up the paid version once their free Membership runs out.
- Trade volume is miniscule
- Income to Tradeqoin is even more miniscule
- One entire region (consisting of approximately 20% Tradeqoin Membership) will never produce any income streams, ever!
In following blogs I asked Questions of the Tradeqoin Directors (which almost all remain unanswered).
On 21 November, 2014, I noted a major devaluation of their business (just a trifling million Euros BTW!) and a subsequent reduction in their Crowdfunding ask from 150,000 Euros to 50,000 Euros. I venture to suggest that this was a DIRECT result of my analysis and exposure, and totally contrary to your opinion (given by Executive Director Ron Whitney) that IRTA & UC findings that my blogging of this matter “lacked credibility”.
Contrary to my detractors’ claims, which of course included you, that I was out to destroy and pull down “good people” who have “been in the industry for years” and who “deserve to succeed”, I spoke words of wisdom when I gave Qoin Advice on how to rebuild and I pleaded with my readers to clean up the Barter Industry
In reply to your Ostrich-like, partisan behaviour in which you attacked my credibility, I then gave a detailed breakdown of my incredibly thorough research in a post which will if they bothered to read it, likely have shaken Tradeqoin and it’s supporters to the core – Analysing Tradeqoin’s Membership posted on 24 October, 2014. At that point, I believe that with ‘the cat out of the bag’, IRTA should have acted immediately to protect its own credibility rather than to protect its friend and Board Member.
It’s a pity for an organisation with a long and proud history that you didn’t for now, again you will be viewed as an organisation built upon nepotism and lacking ethics, ironically two of the claims BTW that the conman Daniel Evans made in his original attacks on IRTA!
But Wait – There’s more!
But that’s not all, for incredibly, in January 2015, Tradeqoin STILL continued to misrepresent the facts to the public about their flagship commercial Trade Exchange when this article appeared in a small local newspaper in the Achterhoek Region claiming, yet again, 200 members:
Ook Rob van Hilten van Qoin houdt zich bezig met alternatieve geldsystemen. Hij richt zich momenteel vooral op het MKB. In Noord-Holland functioneert een coöperatieve vereniging van tweehonderd bedrijven die onderling betalen met de Tradeqoin.
Translated thanks to Google Translate this is:
Rob van Hilten of Qoin deals with alternative money systems. He currently focuses on SMEs. In North Holland operates a cooperative association of two hundred companies paying themselves with the Tradeqoin.
I remind you that this is NOT correct, in other words this is a deliberate misrepresentation. Putting this very simply, you IRTA have a Board member who is continuing to lie to the public, not only to look good but for commercial gain. This is fraudulent conduct, conduct that is unbecoming of any ethical business and certainly that of an industry leader whom is supposed to represent the interests of the entire industry.
But it is a lot worse than that IRTA, because as you well know, individuals within the industry continue to believe in the Tradeqoin lie, some of whom prompted me to revisit the Tradeqoin business resulting in my post, Tradeqoin Revisited on 5 June, 2015. I of course found more of the same!
I believe that you, like your friend Rob van Hilten have a serious problem.
It’s called credibility.
I can and will continue to investigate and blog about your cosy relationship with Qoin and its principals. Every day that goes by with your knowing about this fraud proves that you value friendships over ethics; that the claims by Daniel Evans (and others) of nepotism and self-interest are valid; and that you actually support a fraudulent operation being conducted not only right under your noses, but indeed inside your own camp!
It is my belief that Tradeqoin was initially established with the intention of being a legitimate business. I believe that the principals of Qoin wanted a commercial Trade Exchange and have worked hard to build one. For that they deserve kudos and your support.
But I also believe that they had never actually run a successful Trade Exchange before and didn’t have the management skills to succeed. A Freemium model, as I have previously explained can and will never work in a highly labour-intensive business. It also requires hard work and real delivery of real services, not just talk to make a Trade Exchange work and they’ve clearly learned this the hard way.
Again, Qoin deserve kudos for trying something that others haven’t, even though more experienced in the industry could have predicted this and as I blogged about at the time, along with insane projections indicated a serious lack of commercial experience in the industry.
The Point of Failure
Instead of doing the honourable thing though and closing it down when the going got tough, they chose to bluff it out; to ‘fake-it-until-they-made-it’; then to seek funding from the public using deception. For me, at that point they crossed the line and you, IRTA should take affirmative, positive action to deal with a situation that is festering and could make a big mess on the floor.
I really feel for the Qoin people, for I am sure that they would love to quit the Tradeqoin business that is surely sucking their cash reserves dry – how on earth can they afford the repayments to their previous crowdfunding investors from a business that apart from further investments doesn’t have any income, no meaningful trade volume for goodness sake?
On top of that they are self-proclaimed “experts” in the industry and can ill-afford to have yet another failed business under their belt, especially one that they promoted so heavily. In the past they have let things go bankrupt and casually reframed them later as “successful exits” but in Tradeqoin’s case they cannot do that for my [probably very unwelcome] attention has made this very difficult!
That though is their problem, not yours, and one of their own making.
In Q4, 2013 you were excited to find my investigation into Daniel Evans and his Ormita fraud. Following years of unsuccessful engagement (you couldn’t even FIND him!) you watched and supported my very thorough, professional investigation that resulted in not only the production of the report itself but actually the closure of the Ormita business. “Hallelujah!” you all said. You bought and distributed hundreds of copies of The Ormita Report and you (and Rob van Hilten BTW) spread the word that I was indeed ‘onto it” and had enormous credibility.
Now, that all changed when I found out what the IRTA Executive was doing behind the IRTA Members’ backs (and indeed some of your own Board!) and it became unbearable when I started looking into and blogging about how you were running Universal Currency as an IRTA funding machine etc. This I know necessitated attacking the messenger, but with Tradeqoin, this is not your own careers I’m reporting . . . this is another Ormita . . . as I have previously mentioned, Tradeqoin is in essence the same business model as Ormita – a business built on false information, dodgy membership numbers from people who claim to be experts. Just like with Ormita, more good people (the little people) will be losing their money unless something is done to stop the rot.
One thing I can absolutely assure you, that even though they could easily afford it, based on their past string of business failures, the principals of Qoin will NEVER in a million years personally underwrite the losses of these ‘little people’ who have invested by way of Crowdfunding with the failure of their Tradeqoin business – NEVER!
I would note too that I am certain that Rob van Hilten would have ‘led you up the garden path’ like he has done with other industry insiders. Ad hominem attacks can only go so far, and smearing me as a man with an agenda, believer in loopy conspiracy ideas and other foolishness does not work against the FACTS and a committed blogger who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘give up’. The truth is that while I might be opinionated, I am that because I ask the questions; work with facts; do not personalise matters; speak the truth relentlessly and fearlessly and I having nothing to lose. You however do . . .
I respectfully ask that you, IRTA, do the honourable thing and not only do it, but to be SEEN to do it. Don’t worry, I will only brag about it a little bit if you do, and I promise that I will blog positively about any positive action you take to rid the industry of yet another Ormita-look-alike. God knows there’s enough of them out there already, but having one on the inside of the leadership of the industry body is DEFINITELY NOT a good look.
Are you up for it this time, or do I have to reveal MORE* and drag MORE* muck into the public arena before you do the honourable thing?
Dennis A. Smith
* This is NOT an idle threat BTW as there IS more that I can reveal if or when I deem it appropriate. Do you think that an IRTA Board Member, who is friends with you all would voluntarily advise you of, how shall we say it, all his ‘indiscretions’? I know that I’d be the last person on the planet whom you’d contact or trust so I’ll answer some hypothetical questions you might like to ask me . . .
Q. Do you have proof of the 6% Membership claims? Can we see it?
A. Yes. No. I will be giving the entire results of my telemarketing exercise free for evidence to the first person who wishes to make a formal complaint to the IRTA Ethics Committee
Q. Are there any more ‘issues’ relating to Tradeqoin that may have been kept from our knowledge and how serious are they? For example could they result in a complaint to the IRTA Ethics Committee?
A. Yes. Yes.