Washington, D.C. — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today filed a federal civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Dwayne Golden of Florida, Jatin Patel of India, Marquis Egerton of North Carolina, and Gregory Aggesen of New York with fraud for operating Ponzi schemes involving bitcoin, for fraudulently soliciting more than $44 million of investments, and misappropriating millions of dollars.
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 (CEA) and CFTC regulations, as charged.
“This case illustrates how fraudsters never tire of devising schemes to separate people from their hard-earned money, and digital asset frauds are no exception,” said Acting Director of Enforcement Vincent McGonagle.
The complaint alleges that Golden, Patel, and Egerton operated the websites Empowercoin and Ecoinplus, through which they fraudulently solicited individuals of more than $23 million of bitcoin. The complaint also alleges that Golden, Patel, Aggesen, and an accomplice, operated the website JetCoin, through which they fraudulently solicited individuals of more than $21 million of bitcoin. According to the complaint, the websites all promised customers that professionals would trade their bitcoin and they guaranteed that the resulting profits would be paid daily. In reality, the complaint states, the customers’ bitcoin were either misappropriated by the defendants and their accomplice or used to make supposed profit payments to other customers that were Ponzi payments. The complaint alleges that Golden, Patel and Egerton misappropriated approximately $9.8 million worth of bitcoin received through the Empowercoin and Ecoinplus websites. The complaint also alleges that Golden, Patel, Aggesen and their accomplice misappropriated approximately $7.8 million worth of bitcoin received through the JetCoin website.
Parallel Criminal Action
Earlier today Golden, Egerton, and Aggesen were charged by federal criminal indictment with wire fraud, money laundering, and a separate individual was charged with obstruction of justice in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York [United States v. Golden, No. 22 cr. 88 (E.D.N.Y. March 8, 2022).]
The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The CFTC also appreciates the assistance of the Federal Trade Commission and the UK Financial Conduct Authority.
The Division of Enforcement staff responsible for this matter are Devin Cain, Elizabeth C. Brennan, Meredith Borner, Gabriella Geanuleas, W. Derek Shakabpa, Christopher Giglio, David Acevedo, Lenel Hickson, Jr., and Manal M. Sultan.
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The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories and Articles that provide the warning signs of fraud, including one to inform the public of possible risks associated with investing or speculating in virtual currencies or recently launched Bitcoin futures and options.
Customers and other individuals can report suspicious activities or information, such as possible violations of commodity trading laws, to the Division of Enforcement via a toll-free hotline 866-FON-CFTC (866-366-2382), file a tip or complaint online, or contact the Whistleblower Office. Whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected paid from the CFTC Customer Protection Fund financed through monetary sanctions paid to the CFTC by violators of the CEA.