BitForex, a cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in Hong Kong, has abruptly ceased all operations, leaving customers confused and apparently unable to access their funds as they wonder whether an exit scam has taken place.

Before closing up shop, BitForex's hot wallets recorded significant digital currency outflows amounting to approximately $56.5 million on February 23, as detected by pseudonymous on-chain investigator ZachXBT. Right now, the exchange appears to have zero trading volume, according to data from CoinMarketCap and CoinGecko.

The sudden suspension of withdrawals has sparked a flurry of user complaints on BitForex's official Telegram channel, with numerous reports of inaccessible accounts and zeroed-out balances on dashboards. Further complicating matters, the exchange has allegedly been selectively deleting messages that addressed these user concerns since the halt, and its Community Manager went silent and changed her profile picture shortly after the incident.

Decrypt tried to reach BitForex for comments but did not immediately receive a response from either the exchange or its community manager.


BitForex's statement regarding "unscheduled maintenance" has done little to quell the unrest.

The exchange communicated this to the OMI ecosystem's official account, stating on Twitter (aka X), "According to the exchange, they are currently undergoing unscheduled maintenance. We have reached out to the exchange directly and will update the community when further information becomes available."

A selection of messages from BitForex's official Telegram channel. Image: Decrypt
A selection of messages from BitForex's official Telegram channel. Image: Decrypt

BitForex holds nearly 7% of the OMI supply. OMI serves as the utility token for the Veve ecosystem, a prominent marketplace for trading NFTs licensed by major brands such as Marvel and Disney. OMI crashed from $0.0069 before the incident to its current price of $0.00078 for a whopping 88% drop.


Currently, access to the exchange is largely blocked, with only a few support pages remaining accessible, including an announcement about CEO Jason Luo's departure on January 31. Anything other than that is inaccessible for users and visitors.

This isn’t the first time the exchange has encountered controversy. Last year, Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) flagged the exchange for operating without proper registration, and it has previously been accused of faking its trading volume.

The official BitForex group is silent, but a Telegram group named "Scammed by BitForex" has emerged, gaining over 150 users who are sharing their grievances and seeking collective action. Some users have presented complaints to Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and are encouraging other victims to do the same and spread awareness, contacting crypto influencers and educators.

If BitForex really has conducted an exit scam, it wouldn't be the first time that a crypto exchange has mysteriously shut down while customer funds hang in the balance. The most famous example is arguably QuadrigaCX, a Canadian exchange that collapsed in 2019 following the death of founder Gerald Cotton in 2018. Authorities believe that customer funds were never actually invested in crypto, and that Cotton oversaw a Ponzi scheme.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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