Leader Of Miami Crew Sentenced To 63 Months In Prison For Defrauding Banks And Cryptocurrency Exchange Of More Than $4 Million
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ivan J. Arvelo, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the arrest of EUGENE WILLIAM AUSTIN, JR., a/k/a “Hugh Austin,” for charges in connection with a scheme to steal money from investors and other victims by offering a variety of fraudulent cryptocurrency-related investment services, including sales of multimillion-dollar batches of cryptocurrency, marketing and advertising services, and short-term investments and loans. EUGENE AUSTIN was arrested on July 5, 2023, and was presented that same day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer E. Willis. Mr. Williams also announced the guilty plea of EUGENE AUSTIN’s son, BRANDON P. AUSTIN, who pled guilty on April 13, 2023, before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel to participating in a money laundering conspiracy with his father, EUGENE AUSTIN, relating to his involvement in conducting financial transactions with the intent to conceal proceeds of fraud.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “This is the third case we are announcing this week to shed light on fraud in the cryptocurrency and digital asset ecosystem. As alleged, the father-son duo of Hugh and Brandon Austin engaged in a cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering scheme that victimized both sophisticated and novice cryptocurrency investors alike out of millions of dollars. They used the money from victims to fund a lavish lifestyle of travel, luxury hotels, and fancy restaurants. Thanks to the tenacity of HSI and the career prosecutors of this Office, Hugh Austin is now facing serious criminal charges for his alleged crimes, and Brandon Austin has already pled guilty.”
HSI Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo said: “The charging of Hugh and Brandon Austin reflects our ongoing commitment to thwarting individuals involved in all types of financial crimes, especially those that affect the digital environment and subsequently impact the security of our economy. As alleged, these sophisticated scammers exploited the novelty of digital currency to defraud unsuspecting investors out of millions of dollars, while utilizing it as a cover to engage in illicit activity. HSI commends the prosecutorial team at the Southern District of New York’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit for their unwavering support.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint, which was unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, as well as publicly filed court documents and statements made at public court proceedings:
EUGENE WILLIAM AUSTIN, JR. participated in a scheme with his son BRANDON P. AUSTIN and others to steal money from investors and other victims by fraudulently offering to, among other things: (i) serve as a broker for sales of large quantities of cryptocurrency at below-market exchange rates; (ii) provide short-term investments in cryptocurrency for purportedly high returns; and (iii) provide marketing and advertising services to small businesses, while knowing that, in fact, EUGENE AUSTIN and BRANDON AUSTIN would not provide the promised cryptocurrency, returns, or services. EUGENE AUSTIN also frequently sought personal loans from friends and acquaintances in connection with his purported cryptocurrency and investment businesses, falsely promising to pay lenders back with interest. In each instance, investors and lenders lost their money, and EUGENE AUSTIN and BRANDON AUSTIN frequently spent investors’ funds on personal expenses, including airline travel, luxury hotels, restaurants, and shopping, as well as nominal payments to victims to prolong the scheme. In total, EUGENE AUSTIN and BRANDON AUSTIN have caused more than $10 million in losses to over 20 victims. Below are several examples of victims defrauded by AUSTIN and BRANDON:
In connection with BRANDON AUSTIN’s guilty plea, he forfeited his rights and interest in a 2022 E-Pace P250 Jaguar, depicted below:
* * *
EUGENE WILLIAM AUSTIN, JR., 60, of Port Jefferson, New York, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
BRANDON P. AUSTIN, 27, of Coram, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. In connection with the guilty plea, BRANDON AUSTIN also agreed to forfeit $3,406,450 and to make restitution to victims in the amount of $3,406,450. BRANDON AUSTIN is scheduled to be sentenced on September 6, 2023, at 12:00 p.m., by Judge Castel.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of each defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of HSI.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew K. Chan, Sarah Lai, and Olga I. Zverovich are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant, EUGENE WILLIAM AUSTIN, JR., a/k/a “Hugh Austin,” is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 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 herein should be treated as an allegation.