The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a popular social media influencer with fraud over a $2.5 million digital currency scam. Known as Jay Mazini on his social media profiles, the influencer allegedly claimed to buy digital currencies at inflated prices but never paid his victims the promised money.
Mazini, whose real name is Jegara Igbara, is known for displaying his flashy lifestyle on Instagram and Twitter and posting videos in which he would give random people money “to help them through the pandemic.” In one of the videos, Manzini teamed up with rapper 50 Cent to hand out $30,000 to Burger King employees in Queens, New York.
Authorities, however, accused Mazini of wire fraud in connection with a digital currency scam in which he induced his victims to send him BTC but failed to pay them back, according to a DoJ complaint filed in a Brooklyn court.
“As we allege, Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values. There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims,” William Sweeney, the assistant director-in-charge at the FBI, said.
Beginning in January 2021, Mazini would claim to be buying BTC at inflated prices on social media, authorities said. In one particular instance, the suspect told his followers he bought the BTC at $52,000 while it was trading for $47,000. He claimed on social media that this was because the traditional exchanges were limiting how much BTC he could purchase.
Once the victim sent the BTC to him, he would provide a screenshot of his wire request to the bank, claiming to have initiated the fund transfer. However, this was all a ploy and several victims never got to receive this money. As per the DoJ, in some cases, Mazini never had the funds in his bank account to buy the BTC.
If convicted, Mazini faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
IRS agent-in-charge Jonathan Larsen urged caution when dealing with online digital currency buyers, especially on social media. “Buyer beware when making purchases of Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency over social media. This defendant allegedly used his online popularity to defraud those seeking to exchange Bitcoin for cash above the market value. Always be on your guard and don’t fall prey to these cryptocurrency schemes,” he stated.
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