Release Number 8356-21

CFTC Charges New York Man in Multi-Million Dollar Digital Asset Ponzi Scheme Involving Bitcoin and Ether

January 26, 2021

Washington, D.C. — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today filed a federal civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Jeremy Spence of New York, with fraud for operating a Ponzi scheme involving digital assets such as bitcoin and ether in which he fraudulently solicited more than $5 million of investments from individuals. The Division of Enforcement’s Digital Assets Task Force was involved in this case.

“Fraudulent schemes, like that alleged in this case, undermine the integrity and development of digital asset markets and cheat customers out of their hard-earned money,” said Acting Director of Enforcement Vincent McGonagle. “We will continue to work to protect participants in our markets from fraudulent practices and hold fraudsters accountable.” 

In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks restitution, disgorgement, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, as charged. 

Related Criminal Action

Earlier today Spence was charged by federal criminal complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The CFTC thanks and acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Case Background

The complaint alleges that Spence, at times operating as “Coin Signals,” ran a Ponzi scheme in which he fraudulently solicited and obtained digital assets such as bitcoin and ether worth more than $5 million from customers. According to the complaint, Spence’s trading resulted in significant trading losses and, as in all Ponzi schemes, his payouts of supposed profits to customers in actuality consisted of other customers’ misappropriated funds. Spence allegedly engaged in numerous efforts to conceal his misconduct, including misrepresenting his trading profitability and the amount of assets he had under management, misappropriating customer funds, and issuing false performance statements. As stated in the complaint, Spence eventually admitted to his customers that he had engaged in “lies and deceit.”   

The Division of Enforcement staff responsible for this case are Elizabeth C. Brennan, Gates S. Hurand, Christopher Giglio, K. Brent Tomer, Lenel Hickson, Jr., and Manal M. Sultan.