The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday said it has unsealed an indictment charging five individuals for international fraud, money laundering, and defrauding individuals through a purported cryptocurrency company.
The five individuals — Pablo Renato Rodriguez, Gutemberg Dos Santos, Scott Hughes, Cecilia Millan, and Jackie Aguilar — ran a company called AirBit Club since the beginning of 2015, which claimed to mine and trade in cryptocurrency, the Justice Department said in a statement.
The alleged fraudsters, charged with running a multimillion-dollar fraud and money-laundering ring, spent their victims’ money on luxury cars, jewelry, and homes, according to Homeland Security Investigations special agent-in-charge Peter Fitzhugh.
Prosecutors say that they traveled throughout the world and hosted expositions and presentations — inducing victims to purchase memberships in AirBit Club’s scheme.
The victims are reported to have observed profits accumulate on the website of the scheme, but no actual bitcoin mining or trading took place. Instead, the alleged fraudsters enriched themselves with the invested funds.
The Justice Department claims the defendants laundered at least $20 million of the proceeds in the scheme.
Rodriguez, Dos Santos, and Millan stand charged with single count to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Hughes was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Aguilar was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Bitcoin traded nearly 3.9% lower at $11,787.89 on Wednesday at press time.
This story originally appeared on Benzinga.
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