The founders and promoters of multimillion-dollar cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme Airbit Club have pleaded guilty to various criminal charges. Airbit Club victims were promised “guaranteed daily returns on any membership purchased,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) detailed.
Airbit Club’s 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 purported to be a cryptocurrency mining and trading company, have pleaded guilty.
The six individuals are Airbit Club co-founders (Pablo Renato Rodriguez and Gutemberg Dos Santos), senior promoters (Karina Chairez, Cecilia Millan, and Jackie Aguilar), and an attorney who laundered Airbit Club’s fraud proceeds (Scott Hughes). According to the DOJ:
As part of their guilty pleas, the defendants collectively have been ordered to forfeit their fraudulent proceeds of Airbit Club, which include seized or restrained assets consisting of U.S. currency, bitcoin, and real estate currently valued at approximately $100 million.
The promoters “falsely promised victims that Airbit Club earned returns on cryptocurrency mining and trading and that victims would earn passive, guaranteed daily returns on any membership purchased,” the DOJ detailed.
The Department of Justice explained that beginning in late 2015, the defendants marketed Airbit Club as “a multilevel marketing club in the cryptocurrency industry.” They traveled worldwide to host “lavish expos and small community presentations” across the U.S., Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe to convince victims to buy Airbit Club memberships in cash. After purchasing memberships, victims were given access to an online portal with false representations of profits from bitcoin mining or trading, when in reality there was no such activity.
The Justice Department described:
Instead, Rodriguez, Dos Santos, Millan, and Aguilar enriched themselves and spent victim money on cars, jewelry, and luxury homes, and financed more extravagant expos to recruit more victims.
Many victims encountered obstacles when attempting to withdraw money from the Airbit Club Online Portal as early as 2016, the DOJ stated, adding that complaints made to a promoter “were met with excuses, delays, and hidden fees amounting to more than 50% of the Victim’s requested withdrawal.” Some victims were unable to withdraw any funds at all.
All six individuals have pleaded guilty to various charges, including wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and bank fraud conspiracy. These charges have a maximum potential sentence of 20 years, 20 years, and 30 years in prison, respectively.
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