Auscoin founder Sam Karagiozis has slammed a 60 Minutes report which implied the Aussie crypto start-up was a "money grab" built on little more than "grandiose promises".
Karagiozis, a self-described "hustler" who dropped out of school at 15 and flipped burgers at McDonald's before becoming a property investor and "serial entrepreneur", said the 60 Minutes report, which aired last night suggesting Auscoin was an "$80 million scam", was unfounded.
"Calling it a blatant scam with zero evidence is detrimental … Auscoin is the backbone of my life and reputation right now," he told news.com.au.
"This is what I do, whatever advice I give people, their success is my success."
The 26-year-old made headlines late last year after announcing bold plans to roll out the first ever nationwide network of bitcoin ATMs, telling news.com.au in December his company would install 1200 ATMs across Australia and Asia to "help the average Joe get involved in bitcoin".
With just 26 bitcoin ATMS in the country and only 2008 in existence globally, Auscoin's plan to install 1200 in the region seemed like a lofty goal — although it was good enough for tennis star Nick Kyrgios, who confirmed his affiliation with the brand in December in a Facebook post.
Today, Auscoin has four ATMs up and running, with "at least another 10" to be installed in the coming fortnight.
Five will be installed in shopping centres owned by Precision Group across the country, with another confirmed location in New Zealand.
The 60 Minutes report said one of Karagoizis' business partners, Michael Sloggert, had confirmed Auscoin's ATMs would be supplied by a company called Genesiscoin and that a purchase order had already been placed — but Genesiscoin's CEO Evan Rose said he had sold Karagoizis just 34 ATMs.
"We don't have any pending orders for 1200 machines," Rose told 60 Minutes in an email.
"There was discussion a number of months ago from a party in Australia regarding this kind of deployment but I was honest with them in that we simply do not, as a two-person company, have the capacity to handle that size of order.
"We've sold a little over 1200 in five years."
Calling it a blatant scam with zero evidence is detrimental … Auscoin is the backbone of my life and reputation right now.
But Karagiozis said the 1200 figure was the company's vision and that he had been open about the fact it had not yet been achieved.
"We ordered the first 34 from Genesiscoin and they've been open in saying they can't facilitate all 1200, so we've commenced with them but we always knew it would be difficult to get 1200 from one supplier, so we are looking at multiple suppliers," he said.
"Auscoin's intention is to roll out 1200 ATMs over the next 18 months. We've clearly stated to buy them all now is ludicrous.
"Our Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is raising funds to do that. We don't have all the ATMS and we never claimed to have them."
But Karagiozis said it was a vision that would be reached.
"We'll be moving ahead either way and I'm more than happy to openly invest in the project myself should we not raise enough in the ICO — as for what the rollout will look like, if we don't raise the funds required it will just take a little bit longer, it may be 24 months instead of 18, but at the end of the day 1200 bitcoin ATMs will be rolled out," he said.
The 60 Minutes report also claimed Karagiozis' other business partner, Sean Harris, had stated Auscoin had secured 600 ATM locations.
But while Auscoin has previously publicised a partnership with clothing brand Culture Kings which would see ATMS installed in its stores, the company has said: "We don't have anything to do with Auscoin."
Karagiozis said within a couple of days of publicly announcing the Culture Kings partnership, a "small group of individuals" anonymously spoke out against it and as a result, the partnership was put on hold.
The businessman also hit back at the program's claims the company was trying to raise A$80 million, saying the goal was half that at A$40 million.
He said 60 Minutes' claims the company had threatened critics was based on "hearsay" and was "unverified".
The 60 Minutes report came about after journalist Tom Steinfort originally interviewed Karagiozis for a wider piece on the crypto craze.
However, Steinfort became interested in Auscoin when Karagiozis essentially confirmed investment in the company would be based on nothing more than "blind faith".
Karagiozis: "You buy the coin [Auscoin], then when it goes up and you're happy with your return, you have to sell it."
Steinfort: "But that's assuming it will appreciate?"
Steinfort: "But what happens if it depreciates?"
Karagiozis: "Well, that's part of life."
However, many loyal Auscoin devotees defended the company on Karagiozis' Facebook page after he posted a video of the 60 Minutes report.
"If you have haters, you are doing something right" one follower posted, while another wrote: "I know you can make Auscoin work Sam. Looking forward to proving the nation wrong."