The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged the owners of three crypto trading companies with duping investors out of more than $40 million in “a sophisticated scheme” involving money laundering and wire fraud.
Dwayne Golden, Gregory Aggesen, and Marquis Demacking Egerton were owners and operators of web-based EmpowerCoin, ECoinPlus, and Jet-Coin.
Between April and August of 2017, the trio supposedly convinced investors to hand over more than $40 million in Bitcoin or cash. In return, they guaranteed fixed returns via overseas virtual currency trading operations.
However, the DoJ says the assets were actually used to pay off other investors (a hallmark of Ponzi schemes) or were simply stolen. The companies went under shortly after receiving the funds and never actually carried out any real trading activity.
Golden and Aggesen, along with another defendant, William White, were also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstructing justice, and tampering with evidence.
The DoJ says they also hindered Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and grand jury investigations and destroyed evidence in violation of court orders.
In its statement, the DoJ said:
“Whether we’re dealing with virtual currency or cold-hard cash, schemers continue to capitalize on investors’ best intentions and pocket their ill-gotten gains.”
“As alleged, those charged today defrauded their victims and generated more than $40 million for their own benefit. This office remains committed to rooting out fraud in all its forms.”
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.
How crypto investors can file complaints about the fake trading trio
Investors who deposited value into EmpowerCoin, ECoinPlus, and Jet-Coin can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
IC3 collects complaints from victims of Internet crime on behalf of the FBI and can aid the registration process for the return of funds.
The US Attorney’s Office’s Asset Recovery Section is currently handling forfeiture proceedings for any funds it can recover in the Justice Department’s case.
Read more: [Victims of $3.6B crypto Ponzi still believe they’ll get their money back]
The US Attorney’s Office helps redistribute crypto assets to compensate victims, including a November 2021 liquidation of Bitcoin to benefit those struck by the BitConnect fraud.
The Business and Securities Fraud Section of the US Attorney’s Office is handling the government’s case against the operators of EmpowerCoin, ECoinPlus, and Jet-Coin.
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