The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against three individuals it alleges defrauded hundreds of investors in the country. The regulator said two of the three accused operated Bitcoiin2Gen, a cryptocurrency company that tapped actor Steven Seagal as one of its promoters.
The complaint, which the SEC filed at the Eastern District of New York, accused Kristijan Krstic of being the founder and main operator of Bitcoiin2Gen as well as Start Options, yet another fraudulent digital currency company.
Krstic allegedly partnered with John DeMarr, a U.S.-based promoter for the two companies. From December 2017 to late January 2018, the two allegedly touted Start Options to be a leading global digital asset mining and trading platform. The suspects hailed the company as “the largest Bitcoin exchange in euro volume and liquidity,” according to the regulator.
They also falsely claimed to their investors that the platform was “consistently rated the best and most secure Bitcoin exchange by independent news media,” the SEC said.
Aside from Start Options, the two promoted Bitcoiin2Gen’s purported ICO of its B2G tokens. A third participant, known as Robin Enos, drafted the marketing materials for the project. Enos knew that the fraudulent material would be used to lure the investors, the SEC alleged.
The three convinced investors that the B2G tokens would be built on the Ethereum blockchain. They would be mineable and tradeable on a digital asset exchange upon launch in April 2018. All these representations were false, the regulator said.
To further give the project legitimacy, the three brought on actor Steven Seagal to promote the firm. As would later be revealed, Seagal was promised $250,000 in cash and $750,000 in B2G tokens for his role. The SEC later cracked down on the actor, leading to a $314,000 settlement with the watchdog year ago.
In its charges, the SEC stated: “DeMarr fraudulently misappropriated at least $1.8 million—nearly half of the fiat currency he raised from investors—for his own personal benefit, including car payments and personal credit card debts. Krstic, meanwhile, received more than $9 million of investor funds in fiat currency and digital assets. He abruptly announced his exit from the Start Options scheme without explanation on April 27, 2018, and has not returned any of these funds to investors.”
Enos, who handled the marketing materials, received just $12,000 from DeMarr.
The regulator wants the three to disgorge all ill-gotten gains and pay prejudgment interest thereon. It also wants them to pay civil monetary penalties and to refrain from issuing, offering or buying digital assets.
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