US court indicts founders of $340 million Forsage crypto Ponzi scheme

A federal grand jury has charged four co-founders of the crypto Ponzi scheme which raised $350 million from investors through a supposed decentralized finance (DeFi) cryptocurrency investment platform.

The Department of Justice announced, that the jury has named four Russian national in in the case, including Vladimir Okhotnikov, Olena Oblamska, Mikhail Sergeev, and Sergey Maslakov. The court has found that they promoted Forsage as a “legitimate, low-risk, and lucrative” decentralized matrix project on social media, while in reality it was a pyramid investment scheme.

The court filings claim that the defendants coded and deployed smart contracts that systemized their scheme and diverted the investments deposited by new investors to the existing ones, like in a Ponzi scheme. The scheme was executed on the Ethereum (ETH), Binance Smart Chain, and Tron blockchains.

According to the court filings, 80% of Forsage investors less ETH back than they invested and half of investors never got any returns.

Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, said:

While advancements in the virtual asset ecosystem bring new opportunities to investors, criminals are also finding new ways to orchestrate illicit schemes. The FBI remains committed to working alongside our domestic and international law enforcement partners to investigate and pursue subjects who orchestrate these scams and attempt to defraud investors.

The defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in prison.

The indictment follows charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission to 11 individuals involved in the fraudulent blockchain scheme.

U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight for the District of Oregon, added:

Today’s indictment is the result of a rigorous investigation that spent months piecing together the systematic theft of hundreds of millions of dollars. Bringing charges against foreign actors who used new technology to commit fraud in an emerging financial market is a complicated endeavor only possible with the full and complete coordination of multiple law enforcement agencies. It is a privilege to work alongside the agents involved in these complex cases.

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