US authorities on Tuesday filed a criminal case against a cryptocurrency executive and civil charges against him and his sister for allegedly defrauding retail investors out of millions of dollars with Ormeus coin, a digital token.
According to a Reuters report, the Justice Department told Manhattan federal court that John Barksdale lied about the value and profitability of the Ormeus coin’s mining assets and that the coin was backed by a $250 million mining operation that generates over $5 million a month in revenue.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) separately charged Barksdale and his sister JonAtina for conducting fraudulent unregistered offerings of Ormeus Coin.
Since 2017, the siblings raised $124 million from over 20,000 investors through their multi-level marketing company Ormeus Global SA, and spent millions of dollars on travel, real estate and other personal expenses, said SEC.
Authorities said that the Barksdales promoted Ormeus Coin through roadshows and social media including a Times Square jumbotron in Manhattan proclaiming “$250 Million Cryptocurrency Mining Farm Revealed in Legal Audit by Ormeus Coin.”
Melissa Hodgman, associate director of the SEC enforcement division said the Barksdales “acted as modern-day snake-oil salesmen” in misleading investors.
Lawyers for the Barksdales could not immediately be identified, reported Reuters.
The Justice Department said John Barksdale has been arrested and is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. He is facing up to 65 years in prison.
According to the Justice Department, John Barksdale has been arrested and faces up to 65 years in prison on securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy charges.
The SEC said both defendants are citizens of the United States, with John Barksdale, 41, having lived in Thailand and JonAtina Barksdale, 45, in Hong Kong.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler described the cryptocurrency industry as the “Wild West” of finance. He urged cryptocurrency exchanges to register with the SEC.