The Southern District of New York court sentenced employees of the international cryptocurrency pyramid AirBit Club Scott Hughes, Cecilia Millan and Karina Chaires to prison terms.
“Such pyramids would be impossible without such helpers. “Today’s sentences are a reminder that any co-conspirator in cryptocurrency investment schemes—not just those at the top of the pyramid—will face serious consequences for these crimes,” said Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Lawyer Scott Hughes was sentenced to 18 months in prison. According to the indictment, he laundered approximately $18 million from the AirBit Club scam.
Promoters Cecilia Millan and Karina Chaires received five years and one year in prison respectively.
The AirBit Club pyramid was founded in 2015 by Pablo Renato Rodriguez and Gutemberg Dos Santos. They raised cash by promising daily returns from investments in cryptocurrency trading and mining. Promoters promoted the project around the world with expensive presentations.
In their personal accounts, users could see growing balances, but this was a fiction. Those who tried to withdraw funds were offered a commission of 50% of the requested amount by the organizers of the scheme. Some depositors complained that they faced the closure of accounts allegedly due to the “financial crisis caused by the coronavirus.”
The organizers and employees of AirBit Club laundered the funds received through cryptocurrencies, trust accounts and fictitious companies, subsequently using them for personal needs. The total fraudulent income from AirBit Club amounted to approximately $100 million. The court intends to confiscate these assets.
At the end of September 2023, Rodriguez was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He is also required to pay $65 million in compensation and transfer to the state ~$1 million from the accounts of the company that owned his Gulfstream Jet, 3822.98 BTC (more than $100 million at the time of writing), $896,483 in cash, a residence in California, and also various watches and jewelry.
Like the rest of his accomplices, Dos Santos pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to commit money laundering and to commit bank fraud. He awaits sentencing on October 4.
Let us remind you that in 2019 AirBit Club became one of the largest pyramids in the Russian Federation. According to the Bank of Russia, about 60,000 people were involved in it, and the amount of investments exceeded 500 million rubles.
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