Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of DAVID CARMONA for his role in founding and promoting a large-scale cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme known as IcomTech. CARMONA pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Rochon to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “IcomTech was a large-scale cryptocurrency scam founded by David Carmona that defrauded numerous investors. Carmona and his co-defendants founded IcomTech on lies, and siphoned money away from victims at every opportunity. Today’s guilty plea should send a clear message to those who engage in Ponzi schemes — whether in the cryptocurrency markets or elsewhere — that this Office is committed to rooting out fraud in all its forms and holding those responsible to full account.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment and statements made in public court proceedings:
CARMONA started IcomTech in 2018, and MARCO RUIZ OCHOA — who pled guilty in September 2023 — was represented to be IcomTech’s CEO until 2019, when a new CEO replaced him. IcomTech was a purported cryptocurrency mining and trading company that promised to earn its victim-investors (“Victims”) profits in exchange for their purchase of purported cryptocurrency-related investment products. CARMONA and the other promoters of IcomTech, including his co-defendants OCHOA, JUAN ARELLANO, MOSES VALDEZ, and DAVID BREND, falsely promised their respective Victims, among other things, that profits from the companies’ cryptocurrency trading and mining would result in guaranteed daily returns on Victims’ investments. In reality, IcomTech did not engage in cryptocurrency trading or mining for its Investors, and CARMONA and Icomtech’s other promoters used Victim funds to pay other Victims, to further promote the schemes, and to enrich themselves.
Icomtech promoters, including CARMONA, traveled throughout the United States and internationally where they hosted lavish expos and small community presentations aimed at luring Victims to invest in the schemes, including in the Southern District of New York. During larger-scale events, IcomTech promoters presented on purported investment products and the compensation plan, encouraged Victims to invest as a means of achieving financial freedom, and boasted about the amount of money they were earning. IcomTech promoters often showed up at larger-scale events in expensive cars and wearing luxury clothing as a way of exhibiting their purportedly legitimate success from IcomTech. The atmosphere of these events was festive and designed to generate excitement about the schemes.
Victims invested in IcomTech by purchasing investment products from promoters using cash, checks, wire transfers, and actual cryptocurrency. Following a Victim’s investment, a Victim would be provided with access to an online portal where the Victim could monitor the purported returns. While Victims saw “profits” accumulate on the online portal, most Victims were unable to withdraw any of these so-called profits and ultimately lost their entire investments. By contrast, IcomTech’s promoters, including CARMONA, siphoned off, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in Victim funds, which they withdrew as cash, spent on IcomTech promotional expenses, and used for personal expenditures such as luxury goods and real estate.
CARMONA worked with his co-defendant, GUSTAVO RODRIGUEZ, to build IcomTech’s website and online portal, where Victims were provided with personal accounts. CARMONA and RODRIGUEZ discussed how to structure IcomTech’s compensation plan and investment products. For example, RODRIGUEZ advised CARMONA on where CARMONA should set the purported daily returns on Victims’ investment packages and on the size of the investment packages that CARMONA should offer for sale.
In or about September 2018, CARMONA and OCHOA entered into a contract on behalf of IcomTech to purchase cryptocurrency mining equipment from a legitimate supplier and then began touting that investment as a means of generating interest among Victims to invest. However, IcomTech did not meet its payment obligations to the supplier and never received any hardware. Indeed, in or about July and August 2018, CARMONA admitted that his negotiations with the supplier were just for appearances and that he was just “using them.” Even though RODRIGUEZ warned CARMONA that this would only work for a limited time before the supplier found out, CARMONA and OCHOA continued to promote IcomTech’s purported investment with the supplier.
At least as early as August 2018, Victims who attempted to withdraw money from their online portal accounts had difficulty doing so, and when they complained to promoters, they were met with excuses, delays, and hidden fees, if they were able to make any withdrawals at all. Despite these complaints, IcomTech promoters, including CARMONA, continued to promote IcomTech and accept Victims’ investments. As complaints mounted, IcomTech began offering a proprietary crypto-token for sale as a means of injecting liquidity into IcomTech. Promoters of the schemes claimed that these tokens, known as “Icoms,” would eventually be worth a significant amount of money when they were accepted by companies for payment for goods and services. This was false. In reality, “Icoms” were essentially worthless and resulted in further financial loss to Victims. By in or about the end of 2019, IcomTech stopped making payments to Victims and IcomTech collapsed.
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CARMONA, 40, of Queens, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The statutory maximum sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations’ El Dorado Task Force. Mr. Williams also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for their assistance.
If you believe you are a victim of the IcomTech fraud, updated information regarding the case and victims’ rights, as well as contact information for the victim witness coordinator is available here.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Maimin, Cecilia E. Vogel, T. Josiah Pertz, and Benjamin A. Gianforti are in charge of the prosecution.