U.S. v. David Carmona, et al., 22 Cr. 551 (JLR) (IcomTech)
On December 14, 2022, the United States Attorney’s Office announced the unsealing of an indictment charging David Carmona, Marco Ruiz Ochoa, Moses Valdez, Juan Arellano, David Brend, and Gustavo Rodriguez with conspiracy to commit wire fraud based on their involvement with IcomTech, a purported cryptocurrency mining and trading company, from in or about mid-2018 until in or about the end of 2019. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Rochon.
IcomTech was a purported cryptocurrency mining and trading company that promised to earn victim-investors (“Victims”) profits in exchange for their purchase of purported cryptocurrency-related investment products. The founders and promoters of IcomTech falsely promised their Victims, among other things, that profits from the companies’ cryptocurrency trading and mining would result in guaranteed daily returns on Victims’ investments and the doubling of those investments within six months. In reality, IcomTech was not engaging in cryptocurrency trading or mining, and the founders and promoters IcomTech were using Victim funds to pay other Victims, to further promote the scheme, and to enrich themselves.
The IcomTech defendants fraudulently induced their victims to invest in sham cryptocurrency activities using similar methods. The founders and promoters of IcomTech traveled throughout the United States and internationally where they hosted lavish expos and small community presentations aimed at luring Victims to invest in the scheme, including in the Southern District of New York. During larger-scale events, IcomTech promoters would present investment products and a compensation plan, encourage Victims to invest as a means of achieving financial freedom, and boast about the amount of money they were earning. IcomTech’s 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 the scheme. The atmosphere of these events was festive and designed to generate excitement about IcomTech.
Victims invested in the IcomTech by purchasing investment products from promoters using cash, checks, wire transfers, and actual cryptocurrency. Following a Victim’s investment, they would be provided with access to an online portal where they could monitor their purported returns. While Victims saw “profits” accumulate on the Icomtech online portals, most Victims were unable to withdraw any of these so-called profits and ultimately lost their entire investments. By contrast, IcomTech’s promoters siphoned off, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in Victim funds, which they withdrew as cash, spent on promotional expenses for IcomTech, and used for personal expenditures such as luxury goods and real estate.
At least as early as August 2018 with respect to the IcomTech scheme, 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 the defendants, continued to promote Icomtech and accept Victims’ investments. As complaints mounted, IcomTech began offering proprietary crypto-tokens for sale as a means of injecting liquidity into IcomTech. Promoters 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, they were essentially worthless and resulted in further financial loss to Victims. By in or about the end of 2019, IcomTech had stopped making payments to Victims and their chief promoters, including the defendants, stopped promoting IcomTech, and, in some instances, stopped responding to Victims’ complaints altogether.
On November 8, 2022, United States v. David Carmona, et al., 22 Cr. 551 (JLR), was unsealed. As alleged in the indictment, CARMONA was the founder of IcomTech; OCHOA, VALDEZ, ARELLANO, and BREND were promoters of the scheme; and RODRIGUEZ was hired by CARMONA to build and maintain IcomTech’s website and online portal. On November 8, 2022, CARMONA was arrested in Queens, New York, and presented before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave of the Southern District of New York; OCHOA was arrested in the District of New Hampshire; VALDEZ, ARELLANO, and RODRIGUEZ were arrested in the Central District of California; and BREND was arrested in the Middle District of Florida.
OCHOA is scheduled to plead guilty on September 27, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. before the Honorable Jennifer L. Rochon in courtroom 20B in the United States Courthouse located at 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007.
A final pretrial conference in this matter is scheduled for February 5, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. Trial in this matter is scheduled for February 12, 2024, starting at 9:00 a.m. The proceedings will take place in courtroom 20B in the United States Courthouse located at 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007.
Updates regarding the progress of this case will be posted on this site.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is committed to protecting the rights of crime victims. If you believe you are a victim of the offense charged, our Victim/Witness Unit can make sure that you are notified of important stages of the case to help you exercise your rights. In addition, our Victim/Witness Unit is available to answer questions you might have about this case and can refer you to available resources.
Federal crime victims have the following rights, as set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3771:
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
(9) The right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement.
(10) The right to be informed of the rights under this section and the services described in section 503(c) of the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 10607(c)) and provided contact information for the Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman of the Department of Justice.
For information and assistance, please contact:
Wendy Olsen Clancy
United States Attorney’s Office
One St. Andrew’s Plaza
New York, New York 10007