Marco Ruiz Ochoa pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Southern District Court of New York on Sept. 27 in relation to Ponzi scheme perpetrated by the IcomTech company. Ochoa was CEO of IcomTech from its founding in 2018 to 2019.
According to a statement from the United States Justice Department, IcomTech promised investors daily returns on investment products offered by the company, which purported to be a crypto mining and trading company. Promoters “hosted lavish expos” and other community events around the world to attract customers. The company also issued its own token, called an Icom.
Related: Ponzi vs. pyramid schemes: What’s the difference?
The company allegedly did not mine crypto, however, and investors were unable to withdraw profits they saw accruing in their accounts. The company collapsed in late 2019. Charges were brought against Ochoa and other IcomTech executives in November. Ochoa faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:
“Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message that we are coming after all of those who seek to exploit cryptocurrency to commit fraud.”
Ochoa’s plea came a day after Pablo Rodriguez, co-founder of the AirBit Club Ponzi, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a different judge of the Southern District Court of New York.
CEO of cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme “IcomTech” pleads guiltyhttps://t.co/ov6BMTZ11K
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) September 27, 2023
Also on Sept. 27, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced charges against Mosaic Exchange Limited and its CEO Sean Michael. Mosaic Exchange allegedly lured investors to allow it to enter into “futures, swaps, and leveraged spot transactions in cryptocurrency” on their behalf. CFTC commissioner Kristin Johnson said in a statement on the charges:
“Mosaic was able to trade digital asset derivatives on BitMEX and Binance, two platforms that the CFTC has previously charged with, among other things, failing to register as an FCM [futures commission merchant], SEF [swap execution facility], or DCM [designated contract market], and failing to implement anti-money laundering and know-your-customer procedures.”
“In accordance with our existing authority, the CFTC should begin introducing regulation to address gaps that may exist in these novel market structures,” she continued.
Magazine: Deposit risk: What do crypto exchanges really do with your money?