Exclusive: Despite Steven Reece Lewis being presented to investors with an impressive array of qualifications and accomplishments, none of the organizations mentioned can verify any records associated with him.
The HyperVerse crypto fund, promoted by Australian entrepreneur Sam Lee and his business partner Ryan Xu, has faced scrutiny following a Guardian Australia investigation. Despite claims by a CEO with questionable qualifications, and celebrity endorsements, the scheme has resulted in numerous investors losing millions.
Lee and Xu, co-founders of the collapsed Blockchain Global, are under investigation for potential breaches of the Corporations Act, with the company owing creditors $58 million. While the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has been alerted, no immediate action is planned.
The touted qualifications of a CEO, seemingly unfounded, were exploited in the promotion of the HyperVerse crypto fund, accompanied by endorsements from celebrities, as part of an aggressive drive to attract new investors to the program.
In a recent investigation by The Guardian Australia, it was unveiled that the HyperVerse crypto scheme, endorsed by Australian entrepreneur Sam Lee and his associate Ryan Xu, founders of the collapsed Blockchain Global, has caused substantial financial losses to thousands of individuals. Blockchain Global, with a debt of $58 million to creditors, led to Xu and Lee being referred to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for potential violations of the Corporations Act by its liquidator. As of now, ASIC has not expressed an intention to take immediate action.
Despite being flagged by regulators abroad, HyperVerse has seemingly evaded scrutiny in Australia, labeled as a possible “scam” by one authority and a “suspected pyramid scheme” by another.
Sam Lee denies HyperVerse being a scam and disclaims being its founder, while attempts to contact Ryan Xu for comment have been unsuccessful.
At an online global launch event in December 2021, Steven Reece Lewis was introduced as the CEO of HyperVerse, backed by video messages from celebrities like Steve Wozniak and Chuck Norris the following month. Promotional material associated with HyperVerse claimed that Reece Lewis was a University of Leeds graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, along with an impressive career history. However, The Guardian Australia confirmed that neither university has any record of a Steven Reece Lewis. Furthermore, there is no trace of Reece Lewis on the UK companies register, Companies House, or the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Adobe, a publicly listed company, has no record of acquiring a company owned by Reece Lewis, and Goldman Sachs could find no evidence of his employment.
Despite HyperVerse praising Reece Lewis’s credentials as the basis for his recruitment, no LinkedIn profile or any online presence beyond HyperVerse promotional material could be found. A Twitter account in Reece Lewis’s name, created a month before the HyperVerse video launch, was active for just six months, promoting the scheme before becoming inactive.
At its launch event, HyperVerse boldly presented itself as the next digital metaverse poised to compete with giants like Facebook. Members were promised the opportunity to explore “the new frontier of a galactic universe” and immerse themselves in a complete virtual world.
Reece Lewis, in a compelling video, urged individuals to join the ranks of early supporters, emphasizing HyperVerse’s mission to “create a parallel system of existence” that would revolutionize daily life, global interactions, and business practices.
Expressing confidence in their metaverse endeavor, Lewis declared, “This metaverse race has just begun, and I strongly encourage everyone to become early backers and supporters of this venture. We have conducted thorough research and are ready to launch something that will truly shine in the years to come.”
Investors were enticed with the opportunity to purchase memberships, promising a minimum daily return of 0.5% and an overall return of 300% over 600 days. Additional incentives were offered for recruiting new members.
The launch video featured a presentation by a HyperVerse “compliance officer,” emphasizing the company’s global compliance while acknowledging the inherent “risk of loss” for participants.
Despite celebrity endorsements from figures like Wozniak, Norris, Norton, and Bass, who voiced support for HyperVerse, it remains unclear how these messages were obtained. Notably, the celebrities are available for hire on Cameo, a platform where individuals can pay them to deliver scripted messages for various purposes.
The support messages, released in January 2022 during HyperVerse’s global recruitment drive, did not indicate any knowledge of HyperVerse’s business model or reference to financial matters. Guardian Australia reached out to the celebrities for comment but received no response, and there is no implication that they were aware of HyperVerse’s operations.
‘The problem is I’m not involved’
Several HyperVerse members encountered challenges when attempting to withdraw funds in the first half of 2022. Subsequently, they were advised to transition to a new platform called HyperNation. The May 2022 launch event, broadcast on YouTube, showcased masked promoters named “Mr H” and “Miss N,” with no mention of Reece Lewis.
In the video, “Mr H” identified himself as an “evangelist in the new world order,” and he, along with “Miss N,” were presented as the “official ambassadors of HyperNation.” During the presentation, “Mr H” discussed the shortcomings of neoliberalism and highlighted HyperNation’s commitment to using new technologies to offer a universal basic income to its citizens.
In a Zoom meeting with HyperNation members, a senior promoter of both HyperVerse and HyperNation emphasized that the two were part of a unified entity. He explained that HyperVerse and HyperNation operated within the same framework, constituting “one big entity.”
This promoter, identified on LinkedIn as a “VIP5 STAR” for the HyperCommunity, held the highest ranking based on the number of recruits into the HyperVerse scheme.
When questioned about his involvement with HyperNation in a January 2023 Zoom meeting with investors, Lee denied any association, asserting his focus on funds management and technology within the Hyper schemes. Despite allegations and queries about his role in HyperFund and HyperVerse, Lee did not respond to The Guardian’s questions before the previous article’s publication.
Following the article, Lee claimed “misstatements” but did not specify them or respond to subsequent email inquiries regarding his connection to HyperNation or Reece Lewis. In WhatsApp messages, he expressed distress over public scrutiny and denied being a public figure, citing threats for others’ mistakes.
Reece Lewis’s identity could not be verified, and attempts to contact him for comment were unsuccessful.