Six indicted in cryptocurrency and NFT fraud schemes

Six people have been indicted in four separate crypto fraud cases involving more than $130 million in damages, including the largest NFT scheme calculated to date, federal prosecutors said in a statement. this week.

That scheme, prosecutors said, involved a group called the Ape Baller Club claiming to sell NFTs, or non-edible tokens, in the form of cartoon images of apes.

A similarly themed group, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, is one of the world’s most popular NFT distributors, with endorsements from Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady and other celebrities. Its NFTs have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, though prices have plummeted in recent weeks.

Le Anh Tuan, 26, of Vietnam, was charged in California with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder international money in connection with the Baller Ape Club scheme.

Not long after the Baller Ape Club began selling publicly, Tuan and his unnamed accomplice “snagged” investors, deleted the group’s website and took $2.6 million in investments, according to Hoa’s attorney’s office. States in the Central District of California.

Tuan and others laundered the money, prosecutors said, by transferring it through cryptocurrencies and crypto services.

If convicted, Tuan faces up to 40 years in prison.

In another case, the founder and former CEO of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services was accused of securities fraud in connection with the company’s initial coin offering.

New crypto projects use ICOs to raise funds, similar to a company’s initial public offering.

Federal prosecutors in California say Reseda CEO Michael Alan Stollery, 54, forged documents sent to potential investors testifying for the project’s purposes and falsely claiming the business His relationship with the US Federal Reserve and companies such as Apple, Disney and Pfizer.

The ICO raised about $21 million from investors.

Stollery faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

In the third case, a Las Vegas man in California has been charged with four counts of electrical fraud and one count of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud merchandise.

David Saffron, 49, used his Circle Society crypto investment platform to raise approximately $12 million from investors for a fraudulent crypto fund purporting to trade on the daily market. culture and the future, prosecutors said.

Saffron allegedly told investors that he used a “trading bot” to generate profits of up to 600%. He held investor meetings at homes in the Hollywood Hills and accompanied armed security agents to “create the false appearance of wealth and success,” the companies said. prosecutor said.

“Actually, Mr. Saffron was operating an illegal Ponzi scheme to defraud victim investors and investors,” said Ryan L. Korner, special agent in charge of the IRS’s Los Angeles office of criminal investigation. Use money for your own personal gain.

Saffron faces up to 115 years in prison if convicted.

The fourth case announced by prosecutors this week was charged in the Southern District of Florida.

Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves, both of Brazil, and Joshua David Nicholas of Stuart, Fla., were charged with one count of securities fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with a Ponzi scheme that the prosecutors allege defrauded about $100 million from investors. Pires and Goncalves, both 33, were also charged with conspiracy to launder money internationally.

Pires and Goncalves, the founders of crypto investment platform EmpiresX, worked with “top trader” Nicholas, 28, to promote the platform using a false guarantee of returns to investors, prosecutors said.

“Blockchain analysis shows that Pires and Goncalves then laundered investors’ funds through an offshore crypto exchange and operated a Ponzi scheme by paying previous investors in coins. obtained from later EmpiresX investors,” the US attorney’s office said.

If convicted, Nicholas faces 25 years in prison; Pires and Goncalves each face 45 years.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-02/six-indicted-in-cryptocurrency-and-nft-fraud-schemes Six indicted in cryptocurrency and NFT fraud schemes

Edmund DeMarche

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