United States Returns $9.8 Million Recovered from e-Bullion Illegal Money-Transmitting Business to Victims
LOS ANGELES – The United States has returned approximately $9.8 million to more than 1,000 victims who made investments or who had deposited money in e-Bullion.com, a website that operated for years as an illegal money transmitting business.
The funds – the final civil proceeds recovered in the case – were disbursed Wednesday pursuant to a civil forfeiture judgment in the amount of $9,805,621.65 from gold and silver stored at a mint in Perth, Australia. The funds had been stored in the Perth mint by e-Bullion operator James Fayed, formerly of Camarillo, and his companies Goldfinger Coin and Bullion (GCB) and Goldfinger Bullion Reserve Corp.
Fayed is now on California’s death row in relation to a separate investigation and conviction in state court for contracting with hitmen who murdered his wife in 2008.
This week’s disbursement in the e-Bullion civil forfeiture cases follows previous disbursements of $1.8 million in civilly forfeited funds to more than 300 victims in December 2014, and approximately $11.7 million disbursed to more than 1,000 victims in November 2015.
e-Bullion purported to provide opportunities to invest in precious metals. Through the website, individuals opened accounts with real money, which they used to purchase virtual “e-currency” purportedly backed by precious metal reserves maintained by Fayed’s companies in the United States and Australia. In practice, e-Bullion allowed individuals engaging in fraud to obtain money from victims and move the money around the world while remaining virtually anonymous and avoiding many global banking reporting requirements.
The United States obtained information from e-Bullion’s and GCB’s encrypted computer servers that Fayed stored in California and Switzerland, and that information was used to identify e-Bullion accountholders and the value of their individual accounts. The Department of Justice, through claims administrator Analytics Consulting, LLC, distributed the recovered funds to the innocent accountholders through a process known as “remission,” which allows the government to use forfeited monies to compensate domestic and international victims of crime.
Assistant United States Attorney Katharine Schonbachler of the Asset Forfeiture Section is handling this matter.