The founder and promoter of Airbit Club, a multi-million dollar cryptocurrency ponzi scheme, has pleaded guilty to various criminal charges.Airbit Club victims were promised “memberships purchased were promised a “guaranteed daily return on their purchased memberships,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) detailed.
Airbit Club operators and promoters plead guilty
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday that six people behind Airbit Club, a crypto Ponzi scheme that posed as a cryptocurrency mining and trading company, have pleaded guilty.
The six are the co-founders of Airbit Club (Pablo Renato Rodriguez and Gutemberg Dos Santos), senior promoters (Karina Chairez, Cecilia Millan, and Jackie Aguilar), Airbit Club’s attorneys (Scott Hughes) who laundered the proceeds of the fraud, according to the DOJ.
As part of their guilty pleas, the defendants were ordered to collectively forfeit the Airbit Club fraud proceeds. The illicit proceeds include seized or restrained assets consisting of U.S. currency, bitcoin, and real estate currently valued at approximately $100 million.
The promoter “falsely promised victims that Airbit Club would earn returns on cryptocurrency mining and trading and that victims would earn passive guaranteed daily returns on their purchased memberships,” the DOJ detailed.
Starting in late 2015, the DOJ explained, the defendants marketed Airbit Club as a “multi-level marketing club for the cryptocurrency industry.” They traveled around the world to hold “lavish trade shows and small community presentations” in the United States, Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe to convince victims to purchase Airbit Club memberships for cash. After purchasing memberships, victims were given access to an online portal where they were falsely represented that they could profit from mining and trading bitcoins, when in fact no such activity was taking place.
The DOJ explained that.
Instead, Rodriguez, Dos Santos, Milan, and Aguilar enriched themselves and recruited more victims by spending their victims’ money on cars, jewelry, and luxury homes, and by funding more lavish expos.
Many victims encountered obstacles when trying to withdraw from the Airbit Club Online Portal as of 2016, DOJ said, adding that complaints made to the promoter were “excused, delayed, and hidden fees amounting to more than 50% of the victim’s requested withdrawal They were responded to,” it added. Some victims were unable to withdraw funds at all.
All six pleaded guilty to various charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. These charges carry potential maximum sentences of 20, 20, and 30 years in prison, respectively.
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