Joshua David Nicholas – a resident of Florida – pleaded guilty that he and other members of the cryptocurrency platform EmpiresX skimmed investors with $100 million worth of digital assets. He now faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in Federal prison.
Last month, the US authorities brought to justice another criminal crew from the Florida region. The Miami citizens – Esteban Cabrera Da Corte, Luis Hernandez Gonzalez, and Asdrubal Ramirez Meza – might spend up to 30 years behind bars for defrauding banks and a cryptocurrency platform for more than $4 million.
The Multi-Million Crypto Ponzi Scheme
According to a statement by the US Department of Justice, Joshua David Nicholas was the “Head Trader” for EmpiresX, promoted as a cryptocurrency platform that offers “guaranteed” returns to investors.
Nonetheless, the trading venue 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 employed artificial and human intelligence to maximize profitability.
EmpiresX operated as a typical Ponzi scheme, was not registered with the financial regulators, and never even took steps to receive the necessary licenses.
The leader of the platform pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Since he admitted his crimes, he will face a maximum sentence of five years in Federal prison. A sentencing date is yet to be scheduled as the judge will consider the final decision with the US Sentencing Guidelines before announcing it.
The law enforcement agents encouraged all affected users to visit the official website of the US Department of Justice and identify themselves as potential victims of the scam. Thus, they will get more information on how to be reimbursed and submit an impact statement.
Another Similar Case in Florida
At the end of August, the American authorities charged three residents of Miami, Florida – Da Corte, Gonzalez, and Meza with stealing over $4 million from banks and a cryptocurrency exchange.
The wrongdoers purchased digital assets from the trading venue using fake initials and complained to financial institutions that those transactions were carried out without the necessary authorization, asking for a refund.
The fraudulent reversals resulted in more than $4 million drained from banks, while the undisclosed cryptocurrency platform lost over $3.5 million worth of digital assets.
However, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified the scam and organized the men’s arrest. Those now face a prison sentence of up to 30 years.