- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged five people and three entities related to the fraudulent crypto project CoinDeal with fraud.
- The defendants lured investors to put their money into the company by promising returns of over 500,000 times their initial investments.
- The defendants claimed that CoinDeal would be worth trillions of dollars and sold to a group of “prominent and wealthy buyers.”
- No sale of CoinDeal ever occurred, and no investor received any return on their investments.
- The defendants managed to raise $45 million from investors worldwide and used the funds to buy luxury real estate, cars, and a boat.
The agency announced on Wednesday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had charged five people and three companies connected to the scam crypto project CoinDeal with fraud.
The SEC alleges that from 2019 to 2022, Neil Chandran, Garry Davidson, Michael Glaspie, Amy Mossel, and Linda Knott falsely claimed that investors putting their money into CoinDeal could generate returns of over 500,000 times their initial investments.
The defendants said CoinDeal would be worth trillions of dollars and sold to a group of “prominent and wealthy buyers.”
“As alleged in our complaint, in reality this was all just an elaborate scheme where the defendants enriched themselves while defrauding tens of thousands of retail investors,” said Daniel Gregus, Director of the SEC’s Chicago Regional Office.
No sale of CoinDeal was ever made, and no investor received any return on their investments.
The defendants instead used millions of dollars of investor money to buy luxurious real estate, cars, and a boat. The SEC estimates that the defendants raised more than $45 million by selling unregistered securities of their fake business. Tens of thousands of investors worldwide were scammed.
The SEC charged the defendants’ three companies, Banner Co-Op Inc., Banners Go LLC, and AEO Publishing Inc., with violating the antifraud and registration provisions of the Securities Act and Exchange Act. The agency seeks disgorgement, pre-judgment interest, penalties, and permanent injunctions against all defendants.
One of the defendants, Chandran, is already in jail waiting for trial in a different fraud case. He falsely claimed to be developing a metaverse project with a native token. The U.S. Justice Department charged Chandran with three counts of wire fraud.
U.S. Regulators’ Crypto Crusade Continues
The SEC and other U.S. regulators have been on a roll lately in bringing justice to crypto criminals.
For example, in November, the Justice Department arrested and charged two Estonians for running multiple Ponzi schemes and defrauding investors for $575 million during the 2015-2019 period.
The two men scammed investors by offering to rent their mining operations despite having no mining equipment. They also stole $25 million from investors by convincing them to invest in one of their other businesses. This business was was supposed to become a crypto-focused bank.
A month later, the Justice Department charged another nine individuals for running two Ponzi schemes from 2017 to 2021. The people involved defrauded investors by convincing them to invest in their cryptocurrency activities like mining and trading, neither of which their company did.
The crypto community was pleasantly surprised about how quickly the Justice Department and the SEC moved to charge disgraced crypto ex-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. The two agencies charged the former FTX CEO with wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering.
Furthermore, the Justice Department and the SEC are also investigating Binance for potential money laundering. The SEC has recently warned companies and investors not to blindly trust the proof-of-reserves audits that centralized exchanges have been scrambling to produce in the wake of the blow-up of FTX.
On the Flipside
- It’s unclear whether the defendants will face jail time for their crimes.
- It’s also unclear whether the SEC will be able to return the stolen money to investors.
Why You Should Care
The recent charges against multiple crypto scammers have shown just how much fraud happens within the industry. Additionally, investors should be extra careful when deciding where to invest their money.
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