A crook who created a business called My Big Coin to cheat victims out of more than $6 million has been found guilty by a jury.
Randall Crater, 51, of East Hampton, New York was this week convicted [PDF] of four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.
He is due to be sentenced on October 27 by a US federal judge. Each of the wire fraud charges carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, while each money laundering charge carries up to a decade behind bars.
Crater founded the now-dead company in Las Vegas in 2013 and lured marks into buying a bogus virtual currency he dubbed My Big Coin. Purchased My Big Coins would apparently be stored in online accounts provided by the fraudster’s outfit, and marks were told the tokens could be exchanged for other currencies and used to purchase goods and services.
Between 2014 and 2017, Crater and his associates told victims not to worry as the phony cryptocurrency was backed by $300 million in gold, oil, and “other assets,” according to court documents [PDF].
Crater also claimed the firm had a partnership with MasterCard, allowing it to offer the My Big Coin MasterCard. This was described as a credit card that could use funds from a customer’s coin account. Prosecutors say Crater and his crew marketed all of these falsehoods via social media, the internet, email, and text messages.
In reality, however, there was no gold or other assets nor any MasterCard partnership. And the coins couldn’t be readily transferred or used for anything: victims were just handing over their money.
Over the course of his scheme, Crater harvested more than $6 million from folks, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on antiques, artwork, and jewelry, according to prosecutors. We’re told this included a $87,008 “rare stone” that Crater purchased, along with other items, at New York auction house Lord and Guy.
In January 2018, the US government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced commodity fraud charges against Crater and My Big Coin, and also filed civil charges against the My Big Coin CEO John Roche, and two of Crater’s associates, Mark Gillespie and Michael Kruger.
Crater was arrested and slapped with criminal charges a year later in Florida for his part in the scam, and was convicted on Thursday this week after going on trial.
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In another crypto-scam case this week, a now-former Coinbase manager, his brother, and a friend were charged with wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud. Prosecutors called it the first-ever cryptocurrency insider trading scheme in the US.
Ishan Wahi, a 32-year-old ex-product manager at Coinbase Global who lives in Seattle, Washington, and his 26-year-old brother Nikhil Wahi, also from Seattle, were arrested Thursday morning.
A third co-conspirator, 33-year-old Sameer Ramani, of Houston, Texas, remains at large.
The US Department of Justice and FBI allege the three men pulled off a $1.5 million insider-trading caper by exploiting confidential Coinbase information about which crypto-assets were scheduled to be listed on Coinbase’s exchange. ®