Two Arizona Scammers Charged in Cryptocurrency Investment Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona
PHOENIX, Ariz. – On September 19, 2023, a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 55-count indictment against Luis Ortega, 42, of Litchfield Park, and Jeremie Sowerby, 45, of Fountain Hills, for Wire Fraud and Transactional Money Laundering.
The indictment alleges that Ortega and Sowerby scammed hundreds of victims out of millions of dollars in a cryptocurrency investment scheme. Under the guise of three entities, Ortega and Sowerby marketed a “risk-free” investment opportunity in “leases” of purported Bitcoin mining machines located abroad (Now Mining); a direct investment in Bitcoin mining machines in Arizona (VIP Mining); and a real estate and technology company through which investors could purchase custom-built container houses using the defendants’ proprietary “Millennium” cryptocurrency. Each entity involved the promise of lavish giveaways and profits that could be accessed and liquidated immediately. In reality, the entire scheme was based on lies. Ortega and Sowerby siphoned the victim funds to bank accounts they controlled and used the money for themselves, including for the purchase of properties and a new vehicle, and extensive cash withdrawals.
A conviction for wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or both. A conviction for transactional money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation are conducting the investigation in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix, is handling the prosecution.
A number of victims have been identified by the FBI and IRS CI. However, there is evidence that victims remain unidentified. Anyone who believes they were defrauded by the defendants in this case should contact the Victim Witness Section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona at email@example.com or fill out the questionnaire at this link: https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/victim-services/seeking-victim-information/seeking-potential-victims-of-jeremie-sowerby-luis-ortega-fraud-schemes. Victims can access information regarding the case status here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-az/us-v-luis-ortega-jeremie-sowerby.
CASE NUMBER: CR-23-01321-PHX-SMB
RELEASE NUMBER: 2023-180_Ortega/Sowerby
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/
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Zach J. Stoebe
Telephone: (602) 514-7413
Updated November 16, 2023
Press Release Number: 2023-180_Ortega/Sowerby