Serbian Founder of Digital-Asset Companies Indicted in International Cryptocurrency Scheme
A Serbian man was charged in an indictment today for his alleged participation in a coordinated cryptocurrency scheme in which he solicited U.S. investors using two fraudulent online investment platforms.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Kristi K. Johnson of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
Kristijan Krstic, 45, was charged in an indictment filed today in the Eastern District of New York with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the indictment, Krstic was the founder of two digital-asset investment platforms, “Start Options” and “B2G,” and also served as the chief financial officer of Start Options. As alleged, between approximately 2017 and 2018, Krstic and others fraudulently induced U.S.-based investors to purchase securities in the form of investment contracts in Start Options and B2G. In order to perpetuate the fraud, Krstic allegedly used the alias “Felix Logan” and created the Twitter handle “@felixlogan_cfo” to communicate with investors in Start Options and B2G.
The indictment alleges that Start Options purported to be an online investment platform that provided cryptocurrency mining and digital-asset trading services, including trading in cryptocurrencies, commodities, stocks, and indices. Start Options also allegedly claimed that it was “the largest Bitcoin exchange in euro volume and liquidity” and that it was “consistently rated the best and most secure Bitcoin exchange by independent news media.” The indictment further alleges that B2G purported to be an “ecosystem” that would allow users to trade B2G tokens, as well as digital and fiat currencies, “on a secure, comprehensive platform.”
As alleged, Krstic and others represented that once investors opened a B2G account, a deposit of B2G “open[ed] a door to all the curtains inside Aladdin’s cave. Dollars buy B2G; B2G tokens can be exchanged back into dollars, or for Euros, or for other national fiat currencies. B2G holdings can be traded for original bitcoin or other altcoins.”
According to the indictment, however, both Start Options and B2G were fraudulent. In truth, the money sent by investors in Start Options and B2G allegedly was never invested and instead was laundered internationally to a Phillippines-based financial account and digital-currency wallet, and diverted to a U.S.-based promoter of the fraud. Subsequently, as alleged, the promoter transferred to Krstic approximately $7 million in investor funds from B2G and Start Options, and Krstic thereafter stopped responding to all communications and absconded with those investors’ funds. A press release issued by Start Options claimed that the company had been sold to Russian venture capitalists.
The former Director of North American Operations for Start Options and B2G, John DeMarr, 55, of Santa Ana, California, was previously charged for his role in the scheme.
The charges in an indictment are based on allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI and IRS-CI. Trial Attorney Kevin Lowell of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kaitlin Farrell, Hiral Mehta, and David Pitluck of the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case, with assistance on forfeiture matters from Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Mantell.
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section plays a pivotal role in the Department of Justice’s fight against white collar crime around the country.