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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 30, 2017

Charges Unsealed Against British Citizen For Defrauding Investors Of More Than $36 Million

Renwick Haddow Misappropriated Investor Funds And Made False And Misleading Representations To Investors In Bitcoin Store, Inc., Bar Works Inc., And Related Entities He Controlled

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a criminal Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging RENWICK HADDOW, a British citizen, with engaging in schemes to defraud victims by soliciting, through material misrepresentations, and misappropriating investments in companies created by HADDOW called Bitcoin Store Inc. (“Bitcoin Store”) and Bar Works Inc. (“Bar Works”) as well as related entities HADDOW controlled.  HADDOW remains at large.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As alleged, Renwick Haddow misled investors about critical facts, including the performance and operations of companies he controlled, in order to get them to invest more than $36 million.  Haddow also allegedly used the alias ‘Jonathan Black’ to disguise his connection to the companies, and then allegedly misappropriated investors’ money for his own use.  Along with our partners at the FBI and SEC, we will continue to root out fraud schemes perpetrated on investors.”

Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “While seeking investor funding for his purported start-up companies, Haddow allegedly misrepresented key elements of their performance, operations, and management. The alleged twisting of facts not only involved concealing his financial interests, but also his true identity.  And just as Haddow adopted an alias to hide behind, so, too, did he disguise the true state of the businesses he controlled.  But, as alleged, it appears it was all smoke and mirrors—until today.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

RENWICK HADDOW is a citizen of the United Kingdom  From November 2014 through June 2017, HADDOW solicited investments in start-up companies he created and controlled, including Bitcoin Store — a purported online platform for purchasing, selling, and storing the digital currency known as “Bitcoin”—and Bar Works, which purports to be a company that adapts former restaurants, bar premises, and other locations into co-working spaces. When doing so, HADDOW made material misrepresentations about, among other things, the management, operations, and historical performance of those companies.

For example, HADDOW concealed his interest in Bitcoin Store and fabricated the purported “experienced team of leading investment professionals” working at the company.  In connection with Bar Works, HADDOW adopted the alias “Jonathan Black” to further hide his role in the schemes.  HADDOW claimed that “Jonathan Black” had an extensive background in finance and had a role in setting up “Car Share,” a car-sharing app.

HADDOW solicited investments through his control of InCrowd Equity Inc. (“InCrowd”), which represented itself as a type of crowdfunding portal through which investors could purchase shares of start-ups supposedly vetted by InCrowd.  HADDOW did so without disclosing to investors that he had an ownership interest in both InCrowd, on the one hand, and Bitcoin Store and Bar Works, on the other.  HADDOW also misappropriated without permission funds purportedly invested in Bitcoin Store and Bar Works for his own use and the use of others.

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RENWICK HADDOW, 48, of the United Kingdom, has been charged in the Complaint with two counts of wire fraud — one relating to the Bitcoin Store scheme and the other relating to the Bar Works scheme.  Each charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has brought civil actions against the defendant, for its assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vladislav Vainberg, Justin V. Rodriguez, and Brooke E. Cucinella are in charge of the prosecution.   

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
17-202
Updated June 30, 2017