Roughly 800 victims of the infamous BitConnect scheme will soon receive restitution, as per a recent ruling in a court in California. According to the US District Court for the Southern District of California, BitConnect, a supposed crypto lending platform, had promised investors guaranteed returns through its use of proprietary technology, including the “Bitconnect Trading Bot” and “Volatility Software.” However, in reality, the company operated as a Ponzi scheme, using money from new investors to pay off earlier ones.
The U.S Department of Justice
The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered that over $17 million in restitution be distributed to the victims of the multi-billion dollar crypto fraud. Glenn Arcaro, a U.S.-based promoter for BitConnect, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in September 2021, and was subsequently sentenced to 38 months in prison.
In November 2021, the DOJ announced that it would sell $56 million worth of cryptocurrency seized from Arcaro to compensate victims. This was followed by an indictment against the project’s founder, Satish Kumbhani, in February 2022. Kumbhani is currently at large and is facing charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodity price manipulation, operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, and conspiracy to commit international money laundering.
The BitConnect scheme was launched in February 2016 and used a multi-tier pyramid structure to reward investors based on the number of affiliates they brought into the program. The project’s own token, BCC, was the world’s eighth most valuable coin in October 2017, with a market cap of almost $2.6 billion by the end of that year.
The project promised average daily returns of one percent, leading many investors to believe that they could turn $1,000 into $36,000 in just one year. However, several prominent figures in the crypto community, including Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin, and Digital Galaxy’s Mike Novogratz, had warned about the dangers of the project and called it out as a Ponzi scheme.
BitConnect collapsed in 2018 when regulators caught on to the scheme, forcing it to shut down. Investors eventually received their BCC tokens back, but by that point, the coin had dropped from its all-time high of around $500 to less than $1. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a separate lawsuit against BitConnect in September 2021, almost three years after the project’s closure.
This case serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers of investing in crypto and the importance of thorough research and due diligence before putting any money into a project. It also highlights the need for stricter regulations and oversight in the crypto industry to protect investors from fraud and scams.