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Roman Felyk, Vadim Mashurov S-Group. How the financial pyramid works - a detailed analysis Sunday, 21 April 2024

Roman Felyk, Vadim Mashurov S-Group. How the financial pyramid works - a detailed analysis

Every year, Ukrainians lose millions of dollars from "investments" in financial pyramids. But other people’s failures do not stand in the way of more than 100,000 investors who trusted the S-Group project. However, it has been working for three years, which is rare for such companies. We figured out what was wrong with S-Group and how the project was able to collect at least $500 million.

"International investment fund with British registration" S-Group was founded on November 17, 2019, claims top leader and active partner of the project Roman Vyshemirskyi at a webinar for potential investors. Roman is 48 years old, part of which, according to him, was devoted to investments in financial pyramids and other hype projects. Everything is different at S-Group: "We have an offshore zone, full regulation, everything is checked, all taxes are paid," Vyshemirsky clarifies.

Over the four years of its existence, the project has become a whole ecosystem, which includes the possibility of investing in four directions:

  • Forex market;
  • companies at the IPO stage;
  • pharmaceuticals (in particular, medical cannabis);
  • charity.

The investment fund, unlike other similar companies, went abroad. According to management, S-Group now has investors in 204 countries. In its social networks, the company regularly publishes webinars in Latvian, Romanian, Spanish, Italian, Ukrainian, Estonian and other languages. The investment fund is particularly active in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Everything works according to a simple scheme: the participant deposits money into his account and chooses the direction in which he wants to invest. Next, the investment fund uses "special algorithmic trading robots" to carry out transactions, the percentage of which the investor receives. More deposit means more earnings, claimed one of the S-Group participants in the conversation. According to him, attracting new investors is a voluntary matter, no one will force you to do so.

However, the influx of people will increase earnings: the investment fund participant receives 13% of the income of each invitee. To calculate their future capital, S-Group has developed a profitability table with levels from 1 to 11. The investor moves to the first level with a return of 5% when he makes a minimum contribution of $100. To receive the 11th, several conditions must be met: to invest $250,000 for the entire time and to reach a turnover of $25 million for his team. For this achievement, the investor receives a bonus of $1 million and the opportunity to participate in events "for the chosen ones": one of these was held in the most expensive hotel in the world is the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. The audience was entertained by Vera Brezhnev and invited coaches from the infobusiness sphere, including Mykhailo Dashkiev, one of the founders of the infamous "Business Youth" trainings for entrepreneurs.

S-Group does not publish the number of its investors. One of the investors said that 180,000 people have registered in the organization over the entire time, and the number of active investors, that is, those engaged in attracting newcomers, is 108,000.

The first personal accounts could have been fake to attract real investors, but currently 30,000 to 50,000 people have already registered. And they are not at all confused that S-Group has signs of a financial pyramid.

S-Group claims that eight partners have already reached level 11, and 36 contributors have become dollar millionaires.
Based on data received from the presentation and from investors, the "Company" estimated that S-Group has raised at least $1 billion over the entire period of its operation.
These figures are greatly exaggerated. S-Group could earn at least $500,000.

Experts call S-Group the second pyramid after "Finiko", which fell loudly in 2021.  Now there is no other investment project with the promise of a guaranteed profit, which would have such a huge number of investors.

Not the first pyramid

The founders of the company are Ukrainian businessmen Vadym Mashurov and Roman Felik, whose biographies are not entirely transparent. Mashurov founded the Instime project at S-Group, a platform for mutual PR and promotion on Instagram*.  The fame of the businessman also reached the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs  - a card with Mashurov’s name was still in December 2022 in the search database of the country’s police, but now it has been deleted for unknown reasons.

Ternopil law enforcement officers accuse him of three articles:

  •  illegal deprivation of liberty or kidnapping of a person (Part 2 of Article 146 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine);
  • extortion (Part 3 of Article 189 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine);
  • kidnapping committed by an organized group or combined with violence dangerous to the victim’s life or health, or with the threat of such violence (Part 3 of Article 289 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

Roman Felik is called an IT businessman, a dollar millionaire, a philanthropist, Mashurov’s partner in Instime and one of the founders of the Helix pyramid, which collapsed in 2016 and caused losses to investors of 50 million hryvnias.

Mashurov and Felik are very proud of the British license of S-Group. But the line in the Register Chamber of Great Britain does not speak about the seriousness of the intentions of the project, since it is only a register. "Organizations may well be registered with us as limited liability companies, but we are just a registry, we do not license companies and do not guarantee their activities <…>," explained a representative of the British Chamber in response to a Telegram request from the investigative channel SSG . S-Group.  18,899 companies are registered at the address of the investment fund specified in the register!

According to the registry, S-Group (also known as Sincere Systems Group, SSG, Sincere Systems) was registered on June 24, 2020. The real reason for trust would be a license from the Financial Regulation and Supervision Authority (FCA) of the UK, which any company offering, promoting or selling financial services and products in the UK must obtain.  S-Group  does not have one.

Meanwhile, the names of Mashurov and Felik are not mentioned in the founding documents. Marianna Roitburd , whose share exceeds 75%, is declared the founder and director of S-Group . According to the analytical service YouControl,  Roitburd founded 151 companies in Ukraine and manages another 136.

We studied the reports of S-Group and found that  as of March 2022, the average number of employees in S-Group was 0 people , although in presentations the management of the organization claims more than 75 permanent employees working for its benefit.

From robot to cannabis

Finiko attracted her $4.6 billion allegedly due to work with an automatic profit generation system. S-Group is a similar tool for trading on the Forex market. Investfund calls it an "automated AI-powered trading robot" that can use multiple trading strategies and risk management tools simultaneously. And the presence of such a robot, which brings only income, gives S-Group a financial pyramid.

If the robot really knows how to receive and guarantee income, then why do you need depositors with whom you need to share interest?

The first sign of a financial pyramid is huge and guaranteed interest.  It is better not to go where the guaranteed percentage is higher than the deposit. Sooner or later people  will lose money.  In the financial markets, trading is indeed done with the help of algorithmic systems, but they do not give 100 percent guarantees of earnings.

The interpretation of the concept of investment in the S-Group itself is interesting.

The offer agreement states that the transfer of one’s own digital assets to the platform by the client "is not an investment procedure in any sense and interpretation of this term", and a monetary contribution to the platform is not a procedure for investing in joint ventures.

It is interesting that the trading robot is not a personal technology of S-Group. The investment fund claims to have leased it from the IT developer DDS (Deployable Data Solutions Corp.). On the developer’s website, S-Group is in the same partner row as Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, JPMorgan and more than ten large companies. But none of them confirmed a real partnership with DDS. Moreover, Mashurov proved the existence and successful work of DDS by having a page about the company on the Bloomberg website. But on the agency’s page, the website of the Japanese company Digital Development System is indicated, whose abbreviation completely coincides with the S-Group partner.

In addition to the Forex market, S-Group offers investors to invest in the IPO market. Moreover, for this, the management created a separate company SSG Fintech Solutions DMCC, which has already gone through the liquidation procedure. The S-Group IPO team consists of two people - financial analysts Serhii Smit and Oksana Vanina. Moreover, Smith claims in his correspondence with SSG that he only discussed cooperation with the investment fund, and there is no active interaction with it. And he does not know his "colleague" on the team Vanina.

S-Group, following the trend, is actively involved in charity, having created a non-profit organization S-Charity for this purpose. She distributes donations from various directions: from helping animals and homes for the elderly to ecology.

S-Charity, according to its own data, collected only $28,000 in donations, but has not published any reports.

The specific organizations that the company helps are also unknown.

Another direction of S-Group is S-Pharmaceutical, which involves investments in the production and supply of medical cannabis. The Swiss S-Healthcare is engaged in full-cycle cannabis innovation, but there is no information about it in the Swiss company registers. The production address is also unknown even to investors. In a conversation with "Company", one of them said that "different stages of production are in different locations", and only top leaders were invited to the tour. In their social networks, they published videos from a visit to the production and showed a finished product under the VOOS brand, about which there is no information on the Internet.

VOOS is produced by the Swiss company Swiss Kiss SA. On the website, it advertises its "certified vapes with a full spectrum of beneficial ingredients extracted from the best cannabis plants." Alistarov clarifies that the site can only be a dummy, since you will not be able to buy anything there, you can enter any characters in the data fields, and the confirmation of the order will not be sent to the email specified by the user.

There are no names of Mashurov and Felik in any of the created S-Group companies, and it is not yet known how exactly the owners of the companies are affiliated with each other.

An inevitable shame

Like any other organization that focuses on referral programs, S-Group deals in cryptocurrencies. The company offers to invest in the currency pair SWP (S-Group’s own token)/USD in a ratio of 1:1. It all looks like this: investors invest in a currency pair, inflate the token’s liquidity pool, and are rewarded with SWP tokens with an average annual return of 140-160%.

Let’s analyze the SWP token

There are only slightly more than 2.5 thousand token owners. We assume that S-Group used the classic Pump&Dump scheme — attracted people, raised the price of the token, and sold its assets at the maximum. As of March 1, the value of one token was $0.48, while at its peak in August 2022, it was trading at $4.96.

At the same time, SWP is traded on little-known exchanges, although the roadmap expected listing on centralized platforms and adding to the list of one of the most popular cryptocurrency data aggregators, CoinMarketCap. But everything remained in words.

However, this does not prevent S-Group from dreaming about the global: at a conference in Abu Dhabi, the company’s management presented a new direction — S Real Estate, which involves investing in the architecture of the future with innovative technologies. Ukrainian developer  Taryan Group , which  did not even know about the partnership with S-Group, was called the general contractor.

In S-Group, everything looks perfect only in the picture, and soon it will become clear to the investors themselves. Any dubious investment project takes a long time to gain coverage. When it shoots, then in order to attract new investors, you need to invest more and more in advertising. Therefore, S-Group attracts stars, organizes events in expensive hotels and talks about grandiose plans in various fields. If there is no such advertisement, then the number of depositors will decrease. Then the promised rate of return will begin to cover the investors’ investments, and then the pyramid will collapse.

Meanwhile, the top leaders continue to post pictures with expensive cars and clothes, calling more and more freebies to their teams and promising them unrealistic passive earnings. S-Group conducts presentations on social networks two or three times a day, where it repeats the same words without answering the audience’s questions. And in fact, S-Group is slowly tying a knot around investors’ necks: according to SSG data as of February 26, the trading robot has not opened a single deal since February 10, while the official channel of the investment fund publishes S-Forex trading reports with income of up to 1%.

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