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Instagram influencer pleads guilty to virtual currency fraud, money laundering charges

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken Jebara Igbara, aka Jay Mazini, to court on charges of wire fraud and money laundering involving digital assets back in 2021 and obtained a guilty plea from the accused.

According to the public disclosure from the DOJ, Igbara leveraged his popularity on Instagram to lure in unsuspecting victims. He gained their attention by uploading videos depicting a generous lifestyle and offering cash gifts to random individuals.

In reality, Igbara was operating multiple scams, including an advanced fee fraud in which he offered to buy digital assets from individuals at above market price but ended up sending fake wire confirmation images, federal authorities said. The Muslim-American community in New York was Igbara’s primary target as he ran other fraudulent operations, including a Ponzi scheme.

The DOJ stated that his victims lost over $8 million as a direct result of his action and that they “were promised something that was too good to be true.”

“Those in the Ponzi scheme were all assured a high rate of return in a short amount of time, while the victims of the Bitcoin advance fee scheme were guaranteed above current market value for their Bitcoin,” said an Internal Revenue Service Special Agent attached to the case.

Igbara pleaded guilty to all the charges and is facing 20 years in federal prison upon sentencing.

“With today’s plea, the defendant has admitted to leveraging his Instagram popularity to prey upon innocent investors and steal at least $8 million of their hard-earned money,” read the disclosure. “Together with our agency partners, this Office is committed to bringing scammers to justice.”

The investigation involved the offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Field Office (FBI), and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI).

The DOJ is leaving no stone unturned in the fight against virtual asset fraud

The Justice Department has been coming down hard on bad actors in the digital currency ecosystem, as shown in the string of criminal cases it has instituted against potential offenders.

To keep up the heightened pace, the DOJ announced the creation of the Digital Asset Coordinator (DAC) Network—a dedicated arm to police the sector. The department says the decision to launch the network is also a direct result of President Joe Biden’s March 9 Executive Order.

“Through the creation of the DAC Network, the Criminal Division and the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team will continue to ensure that the Department and its prosecutors are best positioned to combat the ever-evolving criminal uses of digital asset technology,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr.

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