The Texas securities regulator has ordered Bitcoin Pope, an alleged fraudster accused of operating two digital currency scams, to cease and desist from operating in the state or face 10 years in jail. His scams promise 100% in returns and falsely claim to be licensed by European regulators.
Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) issued a cease and desist order against Kumar Gondesi and Eric Balusek, who also goes by Bitcoin Pope. TSSB said Gondesi is the founder of Forex Birds, a company that claims to invest in forex and digital currencies. Bitcoin Pope works at Forex Birds as a trader, according to the regulator.
Despite the cease and desist order, Forex Birds’ website was still running at press time. The company is now claiming to offer 50% returns in 24 hours, with Bitcoin Pope getting a 20% cut from any profit generated. It also claims to be regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and lists Barclays, UBS, Citibank and OCBC Bank as some of its liquidity providers.
TSSB claims in its press release that the firm lied about its registration.
The watchdog also ordered Pek Universe to cease and desist from the state. The firm, also operated by the two, purports to be domiciled in Australia. TSSB alleges that the firm was the promoter of the digital currency programs, promising investors 1.9% in daily profits for 30 days.
The two firms have been targeting Texas residents, using Craigslist ads as one of their primary advertising avenues. However, they aren’t registered by TSSB to offer their services in the state.
Commissioner Travis Iles called on all investors to conduct due diligence before making any investment, saying, “Promoters of fraudulent schemes do not count on investors conducting meaningful due diligence. The fact is that due diligence may be the single most effective fraud-preventing measure for investors.”
Bitcoin Pope and his co-conspirator face up to ten years in jail if they fail to adhere to the TSSB’s order, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both.
TSSB has halted a number of digital currency scams in the state, with the latest being Mirror Trading International, a South African BTC and forex trading pool. It also issued a cease and desist order against a ‘double-your-money’ digital currency scam operated by a self-proclaimed digital currency guru.
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