Authorities today hit a Las Vegas man with charges related to the CoinDeal crypto fraud scheme. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged on Friday that 57-year-old Bryan Lee worked with others to defraud more than 10,000 investors out of $45 million.
Investigators say CoinDeal was a blockchain technology investment scheme which involved a new cryptocurrency and the metaverse. It promised investors “extremely high” returns, according to the DOJ, because wealthy investors were set to get involved.
But in January, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it was nothing more than an “elaborate scheme where the defendants enriched themselves while defrauding tens of thousands of retail investors.” At the time, a number of people were charged for violating securities laws.
Today, the DOJ announced new criminal charges, alleging that Lee and his co-worker Neil Chandran misappropriated millions of dollars of investor funds and spent it on luxury cars and real estate.
The charges against Lee are: one count of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property.
The FBI Washington Field Office is investigating the case along with the FBI Las Vegas and Omaha Field Offices.
Chandran was arrested last year; another defendant, Michael Glaspie, has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16.
Lee will appear in a federal court today and faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy counts, and up to 10 years in prison for each count of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, the DOJ added—a total of 100 years behind bars.
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