New York Man Charged with Cryptocurrency Fraud Scheme
BOSTON – The founder of My Big Coin Pay Inc., a purported cryptocurrency and virtual payment services company headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., was arrested and charged today for his participation in a scheme to defraud investors by marketing and selling fraudulent virtual currency.
Randall Crater, 48, of East Hampton, N.Y., was charged with four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. Crater was arrested this morning and will appear today in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida. A date for Crater’s initial appearance in the District of Massachusetts has not yet been scheduled.
According to the indictment, Crater and others created the fraudulent virtual currency, “My Big Coins” or “Coins,” which they marketed to investors between 2014 and 2017 using misrepresentations about the nature and value of Coins. Crater and his associates falsely claimed that Coins was a fully functioning cryptocurrency backed by valuable assets such as gold, oil, and other assets. They also falsely told investors that Coins could readily be exchanged for government-backed paper currency or other virtual currencies. As alleged in the indictment, Crater and his associates promulgated these misrepresentations through social media, the internet, email, and text messages.
In reality, Coins were not backed by gold or other valuable assets and were not readily transferable. Over the course of the scheme, it is alleged that Crater misappropriated over $6 million of investor funds for his own personal gain.
In January 2018, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced commodity fraud charges against Crater and My Big Coin Inc. The CFTC also filed civil charges against the Chief Executive Officer of My Big Coin, John Roche, and two of Crater’s associates Mark Gillespie and Michael Kruger.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss. The money laundering charges provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the criminally derived property. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office; and Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano, Deputy Chief of Lelling’s Securities & Financial Fraud Unit, and Trial Attorney Caitlin Cottingham of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. The CFTC also provided valuable assistance with the matter.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.