On Wednesday, the United States Justice Department revealed that it had filed charges against nine individuals for running two crypto scam projects, including Forcount and IcomTech. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said that these charges should serve as a warning to all crypto scammers targeting innocent investors.
According to the Justice Department, both Forcount and IcomTech claimed to be crypto mining and trading firms. The two promised investors massive profits in exchange for buying crypto-related investment products. The unknowing victims invested using wire transfers, actual cryptocurrencies, and cash.
Justice Department Accuses Nine of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering
In the first charge, the Justice Department accused Marco Ruiz Ochoa, David Carmona, Moses Valdez, David Brend, Gustavo Rodriguez, and Juan Arellano of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their involvement with the scam firm, IcomTech. The agency says that the Ponzi scheme operated from mid-2018 to late 2019.
In the second charge, the Justice Department accused Juan Tacuri, Antonia Perez Hernandez, and Francisely Da Silva of a similar count for their involvement with Forcount. In addition, Tacuri and Silva also face conspiracy to commit money laundering charges. As per the agency, this Ponzi scheme ran from mid-2017 to late 2021.
How Ponzi Scheme Operators Lured Victims to Invest in Their Firms
Department of Justice reported that the founders and promoters of each of the two Ponzi schemes falsely promised their respective investors guaranteed daily returns on their investments. Prosecutors reveal that neither firm traded nor mined crypto. Instead, the conspirators used money from victims to pay other victims.
While investors saw the alleged profits accumulate on their online portals, they could not withdraw any of them, and in the end, they lost all their investments. According to prosecutors, Forcount and IcomTech’s promoters made away with the investors’ funds, which they used for their expenditures and to cover promotional expenses for the Ponzi schemes.
Homeland Security Special Agent Ivan J. Arvelo urged the public to scrutinize all too-good-to-be-true crypto investment opportunities before investing their hard-earned money. He added that with high-end cars and clothes, most Ponzi scheme promoters present a life of luxury to potential investors to deceive them into investing.