Florida resident Joshua David Nicholas has pleaded guilty that he and other members of the EmpiresX cryptocurrency platform skimmed investors with $100 million in digital assets. He now faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in federal prison.
Last month, US authorities brought another Florida-area crime squad to justice. The citizens of Miami – Esteban Cabrera Da Corte, Luis Hernandez Gonzalez and Asdrubal Ramirez Meza – could spend up to 30 years behind bars for defrauding banks and a cryptocurrency platform out of more than $4 million.
The multi-millionaire crypto-ponzi scheme
According to a statement from the US Department of Justice, Joshua David Nicholas was the “Head Trader” of EmpiresX, billed as a cryptocurrency platform offering “guaranteed” returns to investors.
Nonetheless, the trading platform was a fraudulent scheme that skimmed investors with $100 million worth of digital assets. Over the years of its existence, Nicholas and some of his colleagues lied to users that the company used artificial and human intelligence to maximize profitability.
EmpiresX operated like a typical Ponzi scheme, was not registered with financial regulators, and never even took steps to receive the necessary licenses.
The platform executive pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Since admitting his crimes, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set as the judge will review the final decision with US sentencing guidelines before announcing it.
Law enforcement officials encouraged all affected users to visit the official US Department of Justice website and identify themselves as potential victims of the scam. Thus, they will get more information about the repayment terms and submit an impact statement.
Another similar case in Florida
In late August, US authorities charged three residents of Miami, Florida – Da Corte, Gonzalez and Meza, with stealing more than $4 million from banks and a cryptocurrency exchange.
Malefactors purchased digital assets on the trading platform using fake initials and complained to financial institutions that these transactions were made without proper authorization, demanding a refund.
The fraudulent reversals led to over $4 million being leaked from banks, while the undisclosed cryptocurrency platform lost over $3.5 million in digital assets.
However, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified the scam and arranged for the men’s arrest. They now face a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
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