Sirin Labs founder Moshe Hogeg

Sirin Labs founder Moshe Hogeg faces charges in Israel over $290M crypto scam

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Israeli police have accused a prominent local investor and startup founder of orchestrating four digital asset scams and defrauding $290 million from investors.

The police announced that they had concluded a two-year investigation into Moshe Hogeg for his involvement in the four ‘crypto’ projects. They recommended that Israeli prosecutors should file cases of fraud, money laundering, theft, forgery, and tax evasion charges against Hogeg.

The controversial businessman is behind several startups in Israel, including the now-defunct Mobli photo-sharing app, which raised millions of dollars from Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s behind several other startups which, collectively, have raised hundreds of millions of dollars. He has also made a name for himself as the owner of Beitar Jerusalem FC, one of Israel’s most famous soccer clubs.

In the blockchain world, he’s best known as one of the founders of Sirin Labs, the startup that claimed to build the world’s first fully blockchain-powered smartphone. The company, which relied on celebrity endorsements from soccer star Lionel Messi, raised $158 million in 2017.

Other ventures included Leadcoin and Stox, which raised $58 million and $34 million in their respective ICOs.

Israeli police say the startups were part of an elaborate scam by Hogeg and his cronies. Their investigation involved interrogating 180 people, conducting dozens of searches, and seizing 900 pieces of evidence. They have shared their findings with the prosecutors, who now must decide whether to pursue the case.

Hogeg was first arrested in 2021 for his involvement in the scams but was later released and placed on house arrest.

The Israeli’s interest in digital assets has not dwindled despite the charges. He’s currently involved with TomiNet, a “decentralized alternative internet network” that he claims to have co-founded. He also asserted in July on Twitter that he remains an advisor and investor in the project.

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