The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is edging close to settling with some of the U.S.-based promoters of the infamous BitConnect scam. The regulator charged six promoters in May, and as per a new report, it’s set to settle with four of these, with penalties ranging from $526,000 to $3 million.
BitConnect was one of the largest scams in the digital currency industry, with the operators taking off with a reported $2.5 billion in just one year of operation. Regulators worldwide—from the U.S. to Australia and India—have been going after the orchestrators since it shut down in January 2018.
As CoinGeek reported, the SEC charged six of the U.S.-based promoters on May 28, 2021. The accused included social media influencers Trevon Brown, known to his fans as ‘BTCTre,’ and Michael Noble, aka ‘Michael Crypto.’ The SEC complaint, which it filed in the Southern District of New York, accused the two, and four others, of selling securities without registering with the regulator.
As a new report by Law360 now reveals, the watchdog is closing in on settling with four of the six alleged promoters. Manhattan Judge John Koeltl has said he’s likely to sign off on judgments against the four in coming days.
According to the ‘detail-oriented’ judge, the settlement agreements were legally sound but need some minor fixes to make them “scrupulously accurate.”
BitConnect U.S. national promoter Joshua Jeppesen, who resides in Massachusetts, is set to pay more than $3 million in the settlement, according to the report. Jeppesen’s fiancée Laura Mascola will reportedly pay up to $576,000, the amount authorities said she received from Jeppesen.
Ryan Maasen, who was the regional promoter for Oklahoma, stands to pay $526,000 in the settlement.
Michael Noble’s settlement amount is yet to be determined, Law360 reports. Representing himself in court, Noble, better known as Michael Crypto, claimed to have been “very cooperative with the SEC and the DoJ.” However, the two parties have not seen eye to eye on the amount he is supposed to pay as part of his settlement.
Trevon ‘BTCTre’ Brown, who was the South Carolina regional promoter, and Florida’s Craig Grant, have yet to come to an agreement with the SEC, Judge Koeltl revealed.
BitConnect launched in January 2017 and in the year that would follow, it lured tens of thousands of users with promises of up to 3,900% in annual returns. It claimed to be a lending platform that received its users’ BTC and gave them back BitConnect Coins (BCC).
It crashed spectacularly a year later, citing DDoS attacks, regulatory crackdown, and even ‘bad press.’ Since then, authorities have continued to pursue the orchestrators, many of whom have vanished. However, one was arrested in India while another one is facing up to ten years behind bars in Australia.
Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, Blockstream, ShapeShift, Coinbase, Ripple and
Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.
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