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U.S. law enforcement authorities will start liquidating roughly $57 million worth of cryptocurrency seized from the now-defunct BitConnect crypto exchange to provide some restitution to defrauded investors.
The amount pales compared to the $2 billion that BitConnect admins swindled from American and foreign investors during its two years of operation.
Still, this liquidation is considered by the US Department of Justice “the largest single recovery of cryptocurrency for victims to date” and the first step in the process of helping BitConnect victims recover some of their losses.
BitConnect was launched in 2016 as an open-source cryptocurrency exchange with its own token, the BitConnect Coin (BCC).
The platform, featuring a high-yield investment program (up to 1% per day), became popular quickly, with its token reaching the ‘top 20’ in value by the summer of 2017.
Soon, clouds gathered above BitConnect as regulators suspected it of being a Ponzi scheme, a suspicion repeatedly dismissed by the platform.
Eventually, after multiple probes were launched, the platform shut down in January 2018, BCC’s price crashed, and a restraining order was issued to freeze all its assets.
During the investigations that followed, it was discovered that one of the high-ranking executives was actively engaging in money laundering and was also involved in a second scam dubbed ‘Regal Coin.’
The founder, Glen Arcaro, pleaded guilty to the criminal charges pressed by the U.S. Department of Justice on September 1, 2021.
Arcaro admitted that he misled investors about BitConnect’s purported proprietary technology that guaranteed investment returns.
As he confessed, early BitConnect investors were paid with money from investors that joined later, a textbook Ponzi scheme case (SEC complaint).
“Arcaro and his confidantes preyed on investor interest in cryptocurrency. As a result, a staggering number of individuals lost an enormous amount of money,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman of the Southern District of California
“To the investing public, let this also serve as a cautionary tale to safeguard your money and invest it wisely.”
The man is now facing up to twenty years in prison, and $250,000 in fines or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, forfeiture, and restitution. Arcaro will hear his sentence on January 7, 2022.
Victims of the BitConnect fraud can fill out this victim impact statement form to identify themselves as potential victims.
Additionally, victims can voluntarily submit their details to the FBI to aid the law enforcement investigation.
When investing in cryptocurrency, watch out for fake wallet software, spoofed sites, and multiplier scams. Even if you’ve found a platform that appears trustworthy, avoid putting all your money in one basket.
Instead, diversify your crypto and investment portfolio to minimize the risk of losing it all at once.
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