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Press Release

Two Defendants Convicted At Trial For Participating In Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme “IcomTech”

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that a jury returned a guilty verdict yesterday against DAVID BREND and GUSTAVO RODRIGUEZ on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with BREND’s and RODRIGUEZ’s participation in a large-scale cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme known as IcomTech.  U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Rochon presided over the two-week trial.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “IcomTech defrauded tens of thousands of people out of tens of millions of dollars.  It offered the false promise of easy riches based on supposed cryptocurrency investments but wound up cheating working people out of their hard-earned money.  Yesterday, David Brend and Gustavo Rodriguez – two individuals who were central to the IcomTech Ponzi scheme – were swiftly convicted by a unanimous jury for their role in defrauding IcomTech investors.  This verdict 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.  Now, as a result of their lies to hardworking people, Brend and Rodriguez stand convicted of a federal crime and face substantial time in prison.”

According to the Indictment, public filings, public court proceedings, and the evidence presented at trial:

IcomTech launched in mid-2018, when co-defendant DAVID CARMONA hired RODRIGUEZ to build a website for the scheme.  IcomTech was a purported cryptocurrency mining and trading company that promised to earn its victim-investors profits in exchange for their purchase of purported cryptocurrency-related investment products.  CARMONA, BREND, and the other promoters of IcomTech 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 BREND and IcomTech’s other promoters used victim funds to pay other victims, to further promote the schemes, and to enrich themselves.

IcomTech promoters, including BREND, traveled throughout the United States and abroad, 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 BREND, 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.

RODRIGUEZ worked with CARMONA to run 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.

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 BREND, continued to promote IcomTech and accept victims’ investments, and RODRIGUEZ continued to maintain the website.  As complaints mounted, IcomTech began offering proprietary crypto-tokens 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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BREND, 49, of Tampa, Florida, and RODRIGUEZ, 47, of North Hollywood, California, were each convicted of 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 defendants will be determined by the judge.  BREND is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rochon on June 27, 2024, at 10:00 a.m., and RODRIGUEZ is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rochon on June 28, 2024, at 10:00 a.m.

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 Illicit Finance & Money Laundering Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Maimin, T. Josiah Pertz, Benjamin A. Gianforti, and Cecilia E. Vogel are in charge of the prosecution. 


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff
(212) 637-2600

Updated March 15, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-097