The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged a Nevada man, Bryan Lee, for his involvement in a cryptocurrency scheme called CoinDeal. Lee was accused of conspiring with Neil Chandran, the leader of CoinDeal, to defraud investors through Chandran’s companies.

The Scheme

Chandran’s companies, including ViMarket, claimed to be developing virtual reality (VR) and “metaverse” technologies and an associated cryptocurrency. Investors were promised “extremely high returns.” Lee, the nominee owner and director of ViMarket, followed Chandran’s instructions and put investor funds into ViMarket’s bank accounts.

Misappropriation of Funds

Both Lee and Chandran spent millions of dollars worth of misappropriated funds on non-business expenses, such as luxury cars and property. The DOJ estimated that CoinDeal stole about $45 million from 10,000 victims in total.

Legal Consequences

Lee has been charged with various counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and engaging in monetary transactions on criminally derived property. If found guilty, he faces up to 110 years in prison. Lee has not yet been found guilty and will make his first appearance in court immediately.

Chandran was also arrested in June 2022 and charged separately. Another conspirator, Michael Glaspie, pleaded guilty in February 2023 and will be sentenced in June. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) additionally charged eight parties in connection to the CoinDeal scheme in January 2023.

The DOJ’s charges against Lee and his alleged involvement in the CoinDeal scheme serve as a reminder for investors to exercise caution and conduct thorough due diligence before investing in cryptocurrency schemes promising high returns.

Regulation

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