On Tuesday, November 22, Javier Biosca jumped from the fifth floor of a hotel in Estepona, Spain. His suicide ended a career as an international broker that was as short and erratic as the cryptocurrencies he handled.
Biosca leaves behind a wife and son. However, there is no trace of the private jet, mansions or luxury cars he is believed to have accumulated over the course of several years.
When he was buried in Estepona this Friday, only a small group of family members attended the funeral. In addition to his wife and son, only his mother and a handful of friends showed up.
Given the condition of the body, the coffin was kept closed.
From March 2019 to the fall of 2020, Biosca was the biggest cryptocurrency scammer in Spain. By throwing around words like “blockchain” and “digital wallet”, he managed to dupe hundreds of clients – including lawyers, notaries, businessmen and dangerous Russian and Romanian mobsters based in Andalucia, in southern Spain. According to police sources consulted by EL PAÍS, every person he interacted with lost at least 50 thousand euros in his pyramid scheme.
Biosca was born 50 years ago in Barcelona. He lived there until 2001, when he fell in love with Paloma Gallardo, a hairdresser from the province of Toledo. Together they set up a house in Torrijos – a town of less than 10,000 inhabitants – where he tried, unsuccessfully, to set up a hardware store. Soon after, the couple moved to Fuensalida, a nearby town, where Biosca became a freelance web designer. He began investing in bitcoin and perfected a computer program that allowed him to perform thousands of operations to buy and sell coins simultaneously.
In 2019, Biosca founded the Algorithms Group in London – a firm focused on attracting small investors eager to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. A group of 19 friends were the first to fall for his scam. He proposed that they make three types of crypto investments: bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin – the latter two being alternatives to bitcoin, the star cryptocurrency.
Biosca – said to be an uncharismatic, quiet fellow – introduced himself as a digital currency expert, capable of increasing investments between 20% and 25% every week. When his firm started operating in the summer of 2019, a single bitcoin had a value of about $10,000.
Hand in hand with his wife – a woman described as an “ambitious and manipulative person who made Javier do as she wanted” by Emilia Ceballos, who represents many of those affected by the scam – Biosca managed to grow the operation. He hired four public relations specialists, who attracted wealthy clients from all over Spain. In the early months, his employees were paid on time and his clients saw their digital portfolios grow.
But the crypto boom didn’t last forever. Eventually, all three of the digital currencies in which Biosca was heavily invested began to lose value at a rate far faster than its ability to gather new customers. A year after the founding of the Algorithm Group, salaries began to be delayed. And then commissions dropped: 15% dropped to 10% and then 8%.
By the end of 2020, the Algorithms Group stopped paying returns to its clients. Around that time, the value of bitcoin collapsed to about $5,700. The decline would only continue.
In Torrijos – a town centered around a baroque church, with Spanish flags on every balcony – nobody remembers Javier Biosca or is very interested in cryptocurrencies. The local economy is still old-fashioned, dependent on livestock and winemaking. The only visible international elements are the Moroccan immigrants selling on the street and the Swiss cafe selling coffee in front of the town hall. In the Avenida hardware store, the employee does not remember any former owner who became a millionaire.
But in the south of Spain, Biosca and his family are better remembered. A few months after starting to earn money, the husband, wife and son moved into a spectacular mansion in Marbella. They paid $15,000 a month in rent, installed four safes and leased several luxury cars. Biosca also threw huge parties that were a sensation along the Costa del Sol and hired a team of bodyguards that included former Spanish and Colombian police officers to protect his wealthy guests.
In the world of cryptocurrencies, appearance is extremely important, to better market an unstable and questionable product. Biosca even went so far as to inquire about purchasing a bank in Cape Verde and another in Guinea-Bissau.
In March 2021, several of Biosca’s customers – realizing that they had been cheated – filed a complaint with the court. Judge Santiago Pedraz issued a search and arrest warrant against Biosca for fraud, money laundering, falsification of documents and running a criminal organization.
Spanish police caught him four months later, during a routine traffic stop in the town of Nerja. He spent eight months in prison, until March 2022, when a mysterious sponsor posted a bail of one million euros.
When he got out of prison, Biosca lost more than 40 pounds. During his detention he was severely beaten by other prisoners. According to two close friends, the sponsor was actually a group of con artists. Realizing that he would not be able to get their money for them, they revoked the bail and the national court ordered Biosca to return to prison.
“He was scared of the idea of going back to prison, or being shot in the street,” explains a person close to Biosca. The National Court accused him of an alleged fraud of 815 million euros. Meanwhile, the most dangerous mafias to whom he owed money were already on his trail.
“He lived in fear that the Russian and Bulgarian gangsters he defrauded would kill him,” explains Ceballos, the lawyer representing the law-abiding individuals defrauded by Biosca. “We believe it [the money] is still in the hands of his wife and son. She was the one who handled the codes and had access to the money,” insists the lawyer.
She also accused Luis Monje – who is being investigated – of being Biosca’s front man.
However, Monje claims that he is simply another victim of fraud. He told EL PAÍS by phone from Seville that he only had contact with Biosca because he was trying to recover 1.5 million euros stolen from him in the crypto scam.
“The lawyer for those affected does not mention that she also invested 50,000 euros in cash in bitcoin … the National Court itself asked her to explain the origin of the money,” he adds.
The police sources consulted by EL PAÍS confirm that Monje was not in Estepona on the day of Biosca’s death. However, they point out that Monje met with local criminals hours before Biosca’s suicide. Whether they told him about any threats the con artist had received remains a mystery… as big a mystery as where all the money went.