New York Man Charged with Cryptocurrency Scheme
The founder and principal operator of My Big Coin Pay Inc. (My Big Coin), a purported cryptocurrency and virtual payment services company headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, was charged in an indictment unsealed today for his alleged participation in a scheme to defraud investors by marketing and selling fraudulent virtual currency. This announcement comes from an official Justice Department press release that detailed the case.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of the District of Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI’s Boston Field Office and Inspector in Charge Peter R. Redina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Field Division made the announcement.
Randall Crater, 48, of East Hampton, New York, was charged in an indictment filed in the District of Massachusetts with four counts of wire fraud and three counts of unlawful monetary transactions. Crater was arrested this morning and will appear today in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida.
The indictment alleges that between 2014 and 2017, Crater and others created the fraudulent virtual currency “My Big Coins” or “Coins” and marketed this fraudulent currency to investors using misrepresentations about its nature and value. Crater and his associates allegedly falsely claimed that Coins were a fully functioning cryptocurrency backed by valuable assets such as gold. Crater and his associates also allegedly told investors that Coins could be readily exchanged for goods, cash or other virtual currencies. As alleged in the indictment, Crater and his associates solicited investors and distributed these misrepresentations through websites and social media affiliated with My Big Coin, as well as by direct communications with investors and prospective investors. In reality, Coins were not backed by gold or any other valuable assets and were not readily transferable, the indictment alleges. Instead, Crater allegedly misappropriated over $6 million in investor funds for personal use, including to purchase artwork, antiques, jewelry and other luxury items.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Caitlin Cottingham of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi De Llano Campos of the District of Massachusetts. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission provided assistance with the matter.
The Fraud Section plays a pivotal role in the Department of Justice’s fight against white collar crime around the country.