United States v. Le Ahn Tuan

PENDING CRIMINAL DIVISION CASES

United States v. Le Ahn Tuan (Court Docket: 2:22-cr-273)

United States v. Emerson Pires, Flavio Goncalves, and Joshua David Nicholas (Court Docket: 2:22-cr-20296)

United States v. Michael Alan Stollery (Court Docket: 2:22-cr-207)

United States v. David Saffron (Court Docket: 2:22-cr-276)

The Department has announced criminal charges against six defendants in four separate cases for their alleged involvement in cryptocurrency-related fraud, including the largest known Non-Fungible Token (NFT) scheme charged to date, a fraudulent investment fund that purportedly traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, a global Ponzi scheme involving the sale of unregistered crypto securities, and a fraudulent initial coin offering.  

If you believe you may be a victim in the Baller Ape Club, EmpiresX, or TBIS schemes and/or any scheme involving David Saffron or Circle Society, you may submit a Victim Impact Statement.



Latest Updates: On September 8, 2022, defendant Nicholas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with a global cryptocurrency-based Ponzi scheme that took in approximately $100 million from investors.

Case Overviews:

United States v. Le Ahn Tuan: Le Anh Tuan, 26, a Vietnamese national, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering in the Central District of California in connection with a scheme involving the Baller Ape Club, an NFT investment project that purportedly sold NFTs in the form of various cartoon figures, often including the figure of an ape. According to the indictment, shortly after the first day Baller Ape Club NFTs were publicly sold, Tuan and his co-conspirators engaged in what is known as a “rug pull,” ending the purported investment project, deleting its website, and stealing the investors’ money. Shortly after the rug pull, Tuan and his co-conspirators laundered investors’ funds through “chain-hopping,” a form of money laundering in which one type of coin is converted to another type and funds are moved across multiple cryptocurrency blockchains, and used decentralized cryptocurrency swap services to obscure the trail of Baller Ape investors’ stolen funds. In total, Tuan and his co-conspirators obtained approximately $2.6 million from investors into cryptocurrency wallet addresses under their control.

For more information about United States v. Tuan, please see below:

Indictment

Press Release

United States v. Emerson Pires, Flavio Goncalves, and Joshua David Nicholas: Emerson Pires, 33 and Flavio Goncalves, 33, both Brazilian nationals, and Joshua David Nicholas, 28, of Stuart, Florida, were each charged in the Southern District of Florida with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with a global cryptocurrency-based Ponzi scheme that generated approximately $100 million from investors. Pires and Goncalves also were charged with conspiracy to commit international money laundering. The indictment alleges that Pires and Goncalves, both founders of EmpiresX, along with Nicholas, the so-called “Head Trader” for EmpiresX, fraudulently promoted EmpiresX, a cryptocurrency investment platform and unregistered securities offering, by making numerous misrepresentations regarding, among other things, a purported proprietary trading bot, and fraudulently guaranteeing returns to investors and prospective investors in EmpiresX. As alleged in the indictment, blockchain analytics shows that Pires and Goncalves then laundered investors’ funds through a foreign-based cryptocurrency exchange and operated a Ponzi scheme by paying earlier investors with money obtained from later EmpiresX investors.

For more information about United States v. Pires et al., please see below:

Press Release

United States v. Michael Alan Stollery: Michael Alan Stollery, 54, of Reseda, California, was the CEO and founder of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services (“TBIS”), a purported cryptocurrency investment platform. Stollery was charged in an information filed in the Central District of California with one count of securities fraud for his role in a cryptocurrency fraud scheme involving TBIS’s initial coin offering, which raised approximately $21 million from investors in the United States and overseas. Stollery allegedly lured investors by falsifying TBIS white papers (a document for prospective investors that typically explains how the technology underlying the cryptocurrency works and the purpose of the cryptocurrency project), planting fake testimonials on TBIS’s website, and fabricating purported business relationships with the U.S. Federal Reserve Board and dozens of prominent companies, including Apple Inc., Pfizer Inc., and The Walt Disney Company to create the appearance of legitimacy.

For more information about United States v. Stollery, please see below:

Criminal Information

Press Release

For more information about United States v. Saffron, please see below:

https://www.justice.gov/criminal-vns/case/united-states-v-david-saffron

 


Victim Impact Statement:  If you would like to submit a Victim Impact Statement you may do so by mailing the Victim Impact Statement below to: Victim Witness Unit, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, Room 4416, Washington, DC 20530. You also may submit the Victim Impact Statement via email at VictimAssistance.fraud@usdoj.gov or by fax at: (202) 514-3708.

US v. Tuan – Victim Impact Statement (PDF)

US v. Pires et al. – Victim Impact Statement (PDF)

US v. Stollery – Victim Impact Statement (PDF)

US v. Saffron – Victim Impact Statement (PDF)

The information on this website will be updated as new developments arise in the case. If you have any questions, please call the Victim Assistance Line toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or email us at VictimAssistance.fraud@usdoj.gov.



Presumption of Innocence: It is important to keep in mind that an indictment contains allegations only, and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  That presumption requires both the court and our office to take certain steps to ensure that justice is served.

Crime Victims’ Rights Act and Right to Retain Counsel: The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771) applies only to victims of the counts charged in federal court, and thus individuals may not be able to exercise all of these rights if the crime of which the individual is a victim was not charged. Section 3771(c)(2) of this Act requires that we advise you that you have the right to retain counsel. Although the statute specifically sets forth your right to seek advice of an attorney with regard to your rights under the statute, there is no requirement that you retain counsel. The Government may not recommend any specific counsel, nor can the government (or the court) pay for counsel to represent you. Government attorneys represent the United States.

If you elect to obtain counsel to represent your interests, please have your attorney notify this office in writing at: U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20530, Attention: Victim Witness Unit; fax: (202) 514-3708; or email: VictimAssistance.fraud@usdoj.gov. If you elect not to retain counsel to represent your interests, you do not need to do anything.

Plea Agreements: Please be aware that many criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement between the Department of Justice and the defendant. If you want to inform the prosecutor of your views regarding the plea agreement, or any other aspect of the case, please call the Victim Assistance Line toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or email us at VictimAssistance.fraud@usdoj.gov, and we will put you in touch with the prosecutor.

Component: 
Criminal - Victim Notification Program
Updated September 8, 2022