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Press Release

Texas Man Charged With Orchestrating Digital Currency Scam That Bilked Investors out of More Than $10 Million

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A Texas man has been indicted in Chicago on federal fraud charges for allegedly orchestrating a digital currency scam that bilked investors out of more than $10 million.

ROBERT DUNLAP, 52, of Houston, Texas, is charged with four counts of mail fraud in an indictment returned in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  Dunlap was arrested last week in Virginia.  He appeared Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and was ordered to be removed in custody to Chicago.

According to the indictment and a criminal complaint previously filed in the case, Dunlap from 2018 to 2023 worked with others to market and sell a purported digital asset called “Meta-1 Coin” through the “Meta-1 Coin Trust.”  Dunlap made numerous false and misleading statements to potential and actual investors, including claims that Meta-1 Coin was backed by as much as approximately $44 billion in gold and art, the indictment states.  The charges accuse Dunlap of falsely claiming that an accounting firm had audited the gold and certified its value.  The purported art collection was alleged to have included works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, and other acclaimed artists.  Dunlap caused the market price and trading volume of Meta-1 Coin to be inflated on the “Meta Exchange” – a website created by Dunlap – by fraudulently using automated software programs, the indictment states.

Investors were allegedly falsely told by Dunlap that they could withdraw their investments at any time by exchanging Meta-1 Coin for other cryptocurrencies or conventional currencies, including U.S. dollars.  Dunlap created numerous legal, insurance, and other documents in an effort to conceal the fact that he did not possess the gold or art, the indictment states.

The indictment was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI, and Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Chicago Field Office.  Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey B. Rubenstein.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each count of mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Updated March 21, 2024

Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud