A United Kingdom court has handed down sentences to two crypto fraudsters who were found guilty of luring potential investors with attractive promises of high returns and subsequently defrauding them of their funds.
Ross Jay and Michael Freckleton have been sentenced to six years and three months, and six years and six months, respectively, by the Southwark Crown Court.
Their conviction was related to a conspiracy to defraud in connection with a long-running crypto scam that dates back to 2015. The scam centered around a fictitious cryptocurrency named “Telecoin,” for which Jay and Freckleton masterminded a deceptive sale of shares to unsuspecting victims.
Fraudsters Exploiting Crypto Novices
In a statement by the City of London police, the duo proactively approached potential investors with an enticing proposal, asking, “How would you like to invest in a cryptocurrency called ‘Telecoin’?”
Under the façade of a company called Digi Ex, their operations involved reaching out to potential investors via cold-calling, persuading them to invest their money in exchange for digital assets that, in reality, did not even exist.
During the period spanning from 2015 to 2017, a total of £509,599 was deposited into Digi Ex accounts, out of which £409,493 was identified as payments made by investors.
The investigation uncovered that Jay and Freckleton took advantage of the fascination surrounding the burgeoning cryptocurrency market, using deceptive tactics to lure victims and misappropriate their funds for personal enrichment, all while failing to deliver any legitimate investment services.
During the early days, the cryptocurrency market was booming, and the hype around it was so intense that eager investors enthusiastically poured their money into Telecoin without conducting any due diligence or thorough research.
Reportedly, the duo did not utilize any of the funds, which amounted to over $635,000, for trading tokens as one might expect. Rather, they allocated substantial sums to pay themselves and the employees of Digi Ex in the form of hefty salaries.
Collectively, the deceptive pair managed to pay themselves salaries that totaled over £139,000, all sourced from the funds of unsuspecting investors. In addition to this, they further withdrew a significant sum of £145,000 in cash from the Digi Ex business account, compounding their illicit gains.
Crypto ATMs: Enabling The Rise In Criminal Activities
This exploitation of investor funds for personal enrichment showcases their disregard for ethical practices and the financial well-being of their victims.
The London police’s interpretation of the case, attributing the rapid rise of cryptocurrency and its subsequent misuse by fraudsters, finds backing in the remarkably swift proliferation of cryptocurrency ATMs throughout Britain.
As digital assets gained popularity in a short span, many individuals ventured into this space without comprehending the risks and complexities involved.
The widespread availability of crypto ATMs made it easy for people to invest without thoroughly understanding the technology or conducting proper due diligence, thereby creating an environment where scams and fraudulent activities could flourish.
Featured image from UnSplash, chart from TradingView.com