Alleged Cryptocurrency Fraudster Extradited From Thailand to Face Charges in Multi-Million Dollar Investment Scheme
A citizen of Sweden has been extradited from Thailand to the United States today to stand trial for alleged securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson of the Northern District of California and Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Washington, D.C. Field Office made the announcement.
On July 25, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson, 45, and his company, Eastern Metal Securities (EMS), charging the defendants with engaging in a scheme to defraud victims of more than $11 million. Karlsson was arrested June 17, 2019, in Thailand.
According to a complaint filed March 4, 2019, in connection with the case, since September 2006, Karlsson, also known by several aliases, including Steve Heyden, Euclid Deodoris, Joshua Millard, Lars Georgsson, Paramon Larasoft and Kenth Westerberg, used websites to communicate false representations to victims in a scheme to defraud potential investors. For example, one website, www.easternmetalsecurities.com, allegedly was registered to a fictitious person and advertised shares in a product called a “Pre Funded Reversed Pension Plan” (PFRPP). The indictment alleges Karlsson used the website to invite potential investors to purchase shares of the plan for $98 per share in exchange for an eventual payout of 1.15 kilograms of gold per share, even though as of Jan. 2, 2019, 1.15 kilograms of gold was worth more than $45,000.
Karlsson also allegedly advised investors that, in the unlikely event that the gold payout did not happen, he guaranteed to them 97 percent of the amount they invested. According to the complaint, the government found no evidence of any accounts held by Karlsson that would allow him to pay off the investors. Instead, the complaint alleges, the funds provided by victims were transferred to Karlsson’s personal bank accounts and now appear to be tied up in real estate in Thailand.
The complaint further describes how Karlsson allegedly used a second website, www.hci25.com, to make multiple false communications to potential investors. Karlsson allegedly brought the investors in HCI25 together with the investors in the PFRPP and posted multiple communications to delay the moment investors would realize there would be no payout. For example, on one occasion, Karlsson allegedly explained that a payout had not occurred because releasing so much money all at once could cause a negative effect on financial systems throughout the world. Karlsson also falsely represented that EMS was working with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to prepare the way for a payout.
The complaint alleges Karlsson directed his victims to make investments using virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin. Karlsson allegedly defrauded no less than 3,575 victims of more than $11 million.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Trial Attorney Catherine Alden Pelker of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen of the Northern District of California are prosecuting this case with the assistance of Bridget Kilkenny. This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS-CI Washington, D.C. Cyber Crimes Unit. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Thailand, the IRS Criminal Investigation Attaché Office in Hong Kong and the Royal Thai Police Crime Suppression Division provided significant assistance.