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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 8, 2021

Cryptocurrency Fraudster Sentenced for Money Laundering and Securities Fraud in Multi-Million Dollar Investment Scheme

A Swedish man was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges that defrauded thousands of victims of more than $16 million.

Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson, 47, pleaded guilty on March 4. According to court documents, Karlsson ran an investment fraud scheme from 2011 until his arrest in Thailand in June 2019. Karlsson induced victims to purchase shares in the scheme called “Eastern Metal Securities” using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and other online payment platforms. Karlsson promised victims astronomical returns tied to the price of gold. Instead, the funds provided by victims were transferred to Karlsson’s personal bank accounts, and he then used proceeds to purchase expensive homes, a racehorse and a resort in Thailand. Karlsson’s fraud targeted financially insecure investors, causing severe financial hardship for many of them. Meanwhile, Karlsson went to great lengths to prolong his scheme, including rebranding, offering updates and account statements that provided assurances to the victims of the states of their assets, and offering explanations for the payout delays – including falsely claiming to be working with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

As part of the sentence, Karlsson was also ordered to forfeit a Thai resort and various other properties and accounts, and issued a money judgment in the amount of $16,263,820. The United States is seeking restitution on behalf of Karlsson’s victims. A restitution order is expected to be entered by the court within 90 days. Victims of Roger Karlsson and Eastern Metal Securities who have not been in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are encouraged to submit information as soon as possible. Additional information for victims and a victim form are available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/united-states-vs-roger-karlsson-and-eastern-metal-securities.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds of the Northern District of California; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C., Field Office made the announcement.  

IRS-CI Washington, D.C. Cyber Crimes Unit investigated the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Thailand, the IRS-CI Attaché Office in Hong Kong and the Royal Thai Police Crime Suppression Division provided significant assistance. The SEC’s New York Regional Office also provided substantial support.

Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey of the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office handled the forfeiture proceedings, and Victim Specialist Maria Sunga provided support. Law clerks and interns Seamus Lynch, John Paul, Kate Kaplan and Edward Percarpio also provided essential assistance in support of the sentencing.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Press Release Number: 
21-635
Updated July 8, 2021