Waiter, Pastor, Pharaoh: The Life of the Suspect Who a Bitcoin Pyramid Empire

Glaidson Acácio, who denies accusations, was arrested in August for alleged pyramid scheme

In 9 years, Glaidson Acácio, a former waiter and former Universal Church pastor, built a business that attracted more than 67 thousand customers in 13 Brazilian states and in seven other countries. For the Federal Public Ministry, it is a criminal organization that committed the crimes of maintaining a financial institution without authorization, fraudulent management and irregular trading of securities. The suspicion is that the income from investments in cryptocurrencies was not enough to support the return promised by Glaidson. The scheme, according to the MPF, depended on the deposit of new customers to fulfill the agreement with the old ones. The practice is known as financial pyramiding, or ponzi scheme. The businessman was arrested in August in Operation Kryptos. He and 16 other people became defendants in the Federal Court.

Glaidson Acácio grew up poor and served as pastor of Universal in Venezuela, where he met his wife, Mirelis Zerpa, who is currently a fugitive. She is suspected of being the intellectual mastermind of the scheme, having worked in the cryptocurrency market in Venezuela. She is often mentioned on internet forums as an organizer of financial pyramids.

Upon returning to Brazil, Glaidson worked as a waiter at kiosks in Cabo Frio and at a resort in Búzios, a neighboring resort city. He says that in 2012 he started investing in cryptocurrencies and attracting clients – most of them co-workers, former pastors and Universal faithful.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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