The Department of Justice announced today that Jebara Igbara known online as “Jay Mazini” pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him in March 2022. Igbara’s scheme primarily targeted the Muslim-American community and included, among other crimes, the theft of cryptocurrencies.
Igbara Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Theft of Crypto, and Other Charges
According to the announcement, Jebara Igbara used his online fame to entice followers to enter into his fraudulent schemes. The influencer would post videos of him gifting large sums of money to people, offer to buy cryptocurrencies at inflated prices, and ask for money to invest in various projects mostly centered on various stocks. DoJ’s March announcement explains his scheme in more detail:
As we allege, Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values. A behind-the-scenes look, however, revealed things aren’t always as they seem. There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims. A quick search of the Interwebs today will reveal an entirely different image of this multimillion-dollar scammer.
“Jay Mazini’s” handling of investments allegedly boils down to a Ponzi scheme—the influencer was using newer investors to pay “returns” to his earlier investors. With regard to crypto, Igbara would solicit and receive digital currencies and provide images as proof that he sent the money to his victims. In reality, the images were doctored and he simply stole the cryptocurrencies. The influencer is facing a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The Dramatic Increase in Crypto Crime in 2022
While Igbara’s scheme saw him steal and launder at least $8 million, it is far from the only, or the biggest instance of crypto-related fraud and theft this year. Reports of various kinds of illicit activity have been coming throughout the year from all corners of the world with October becoming one of the most damaging months so far even when measuring only the hacks.
Another interesting example of fraud charges coming forth this year involves a company called Arbitrade. This firm allegedly lied to its investors that its digital currency, Dignity (DIG), was backed by $10 billion worth of gold. Some schemes coming to light this year were aimed at banks and crypto exchanges rather than individual investors.
In August, the DoJ charged three persons from Miami for defrauding several banks and one crypto exchange out of at least $4 million. In response, regulators and legislators have begun looking into crypto far more closely. A notable example came in late August when the US Congress asked various digital assets companies for their opinion on how best to fight the rising tide of crypto-related crime.
This article originally appeared on The Tokenist
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