That Time an Internet Nobody Tracked a Woman on the Hook for $850 Million (and then let her get away)
It’s early 2017 and Ravid Yosef seems happy. She’s working on a dozen projects: Paqsule (a self-cleaning gym bag start-up), LoveLife TBD (relationship advice), consulting, web design, and, unbeknownst to most, helping her brother, Oz Yosef, capitalize on the cryptocurrency run-up.
Ravid is a well-traveled, well-spoken, and confident Israeli. Her hair is long and curly, she’s boisterous, and when she gives you advice, it almost sounds like she knows what she’s talking about. At first glance, she’s a jack of all trades, master of none. The topic she broaches the most, however, is helping people struggling to find meaningful relationships.
At some point she suffers from cancer, but as of 2017 is cancer-free and has even established a page at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If not genuine, she at least comes off as caring deeply about the way she’s perceived by others. But all of her social media presence comes to a screeching halt halfway through the year. Why? It appears Ravid’s attention is required elsewhere.
In early 2017 Bitfinex’s relationship with its Taiwanese bank and Wells Fargo dissolves. In a desperate attempt to keep money flowing into and out of the exchange, Bitfinex reignites its relationship with Crypto Capital Corp, a shadow bank operating in Panama for years. CCC is known in the community as being the payment provider of last resort, but Bitfinex plays down the relationship.
So, with several exchanges now depending on CCC (Bitfinex, Coinapult, QuadrigaCX, ExMo, etc.) and a huge boom in price across the board, all hands on deck becomes the new normal work enviornment. Ivan Manuel Molina Lee, Oz Yosef, Reggie Fowler, David Stafford, and Ravid Yosef all have new jobs: they work full-time in cryptocurrency.
What does a full-time job look like for shadow bankers? A lot of traveling. A lot of establishing businesses, banks, and relationships with payment processors in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. It’s convincing real banks your money is clean. It’s giving a wink and a nudge to a pal who knows a guy who knows a regulator. It’s washing money in, hypothetically, your sports business, with the non-KYC/AMLed cash you’ve stumbled into. It helps to be a dual citizen.
To be quite honest, it isn’t easy work and if you’re not good at it, you’re going to get caught.
Anyway, much like the boom, the full-time jobs for the staff of CCC are short-lived. Regulators are looking into Bitfinex and Tether, and in early 2018 ~$850 million is seized from a bank in Poland where CCC keeps its funds. It’s not too long before Reggie Fowler and Ivan Manuel Molina Lee are seized, as well.
Fast forward to 2019 and Fowler’s indictment for the disappearance of $850 million is made public. It includes the names of two wanted fugitives: Oz and Ravid Yosef. Few care.
With the help of some internet sleuths (cc: IntelJakal, EastMother, and ExkrementKoin), I begin to delve into her previous life. I spend days trying to figure out where she could be, how she went from a giver of love advice to scammer, and what happened to her brother.
Ravid’s brother, Oz, has long been involved with tech and “blockchain technology.” More importantly, he’s been involved in the Panamanian offshore incorporation and banking scene since before Bitcoin:
This is important because one can assume this is how he came to know Ivan Manuel Molina Lee, a Canadian-Panamanian who is the named director of CCC and is the one pushing early and hard for CCC to become the shadow bank of choice for cryptocurrency exchanges. Somehow, and my belief is willingly, Ravid gets involved in the racket, not necessarily because she knows anything about blockchain tech or cares about “banking the unbanked,” but simply because she’s a new name with no travel restrictions or three-letter agencies looking for her.
Again, like the bull market, this doesn’t last extraordinarily long.
While I slowly begin to understand the complex operations of CCC and the nearly-impossible-to-comprehend-web of corporations the directors have woven, it’s a simple Google search that leads me to the whereabouts of a fugitive involved with the disappearance of $850 million dollars: Ravid Yosef Reviews.
It is a figurative treasure trove of information. An open book of her travels, from Israel to Los Angeles, Colombia to the UK, Russia, Dominica, the list goes on and on. In fact, and this is truly incredible to me, it has been less than a single day since this wanted fugitive posted to her very public social media for internet points. And, stupidly, I share it, for internet points:
Shortly thereafter, Ravid goes private and I lose track of her completely.
All is not lost. A friend compiles her addresses via her Google Reviews for me before she goes private, and the list is…
What he’s able to do is track her locations in relation to her work with CCC and the countries she goes to as soon as work begins to pick up are telling:
It’s her first trip to Panama (likely to begin work with her brother) that spurs her to leave Los Angeles and begin a worldwide tour that bounces her between 5–10 countries in a matter of months.
Needless to say, I learned a lesson from this. I let Ravid get away because I thought she wasn’t paying attention — and she clearly wasn’t. But to think none of her friends or family would see a public post from a loud cryptocurrency critic who’s been religiously following her case was silly and regretful.
I apologize to my friends and followers. There were obviously better ways to go about this and I share this tale as a warning, and leave you with a moral I think even Ravid Yosef could agree with: it’s never worth the internet points.