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Utahn accused of wire fraud and money laundering in alleged cryptocurrency mining scheme

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A Utah man has been charged with five counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering related to a cryptocurrency business and private investment firm he owns, according to the Department of Justice. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man has been charged with five counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering related to a cryptocurrency business and private investment firm he owns, according to the Department of Justice.

James Wolfgramm, 43, of Spanish Fork, was named in a grand jury indictment in Utah’s US District Court on Thursday, along with two of his companies, Bitex LLC and Ohana Capital Financial Inc., according to the DOJ. Bitex is named in two wire fraud counts, and Ohana Capital Financial is named in two wire fraud counts and two money laundering counts.

Wolfgramm and Bitex are accused of collecting nearly $1.7 million from two potential buyers of a high-powered cryptocurrency mining machine called the “Bitex Blockbuster” — which does not actually exist, investigators said. Mining for cryptocurrencies requires sophisticated computers that enable a user to “mine,” which is how new units of the cryptocurrency are made. Mining equipment also needs large amounts of electricity to power.

The indictment alleges that Wolfgram displayed one of the machines in Bitex’s office space to purportedly demonstrate the mining machine’s real-time operations.

“In reality, the machine was fake, and the monitor displayed a prerecorded loop that simply gave the appearance of mining activity,” said a press release from the DOJ.

Wolfgramm and Ohana Capital Financial are accused by investigators of collecting millions of dollars from customers after falsely claiming that Ohana had a board of advisors and promising customers that their funds were bonded. In reality, the company is registered as a private lender, and lacks accreditation as a full financial institution, according to the Department of Justice.

The company is accused of spending customers’ funds on unrelated business expenses without their knowledge, rather than keeping them on deposit, DOJ officials said.

Finally, Wolfgramm was charged with fraudulently purchasing the Sports City complex in Draper for $15 million in 2021. According to federal prosecutors, Wolfgramm took over the property and billing of customers without ever paying utilities or expenses and without making any of the promised payments to the seller. The DOJ claims he collected nearly $160,000 from customers.

Prosecutors say Wolfgram gave the sellers of the property a check for $1 million that bounced. Wolfgram claimed to have paid more than $255,000 in taxes on the property, but prosecutors say those payments failed as well because Wolfgram had knowingly used an account with insufficient funds.

Wolfgram, Bitex and Ohana have faced similar allegations before. In January, Wolfgramm was charged with four counts of wire fraud while running his cryptocurrency business and mishandling customers’ funds.

The Department of Justice said Wolfgram has also used the names Semisi Niu and James Vaka Niu.

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IMF Seeks Stronger Regulation of Cryptocurrency in Africa as Adoption Takes Hold

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The collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange has attracted the attention of global regulators, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Before its demise, FTX was the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volumes, and it had a significant presence in developing countries.

IMF calls for crypto regulations in Africa after FTX collapse

In a recent statement, the IMF said that the demise of FTX and the dropping prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, have necessitated better regulations in the industry and consumer protection measures.

The global financial institution noted that crypto assets were highly volatile, and their decentralized nature made it challenging for most governments to regulate the industry. Therefore, there was a need to balance lowering the risk posed by the industry and supporting innovation.

It further noted that only a quarter of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa regulated cryptocurrencies. Moreover, two-thirds of these countries had implemented some restrictions. In contrast, another six, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, and the Republic of Congo, had imposed a total ban on cryptocurrencies.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe has mandated all the banks licensed to operate in the country to halt processing cryptocurrency transactions. Additionally, Liberia instructed a crypto startup that had started offering services in the country to halt operations.

Africa has become a main hub for cryptocurrency activities. Data from Chainalysis shows that the number of crypto transactions in the country has increased over the years. However, the size of crypto transactions in the continent is smaller than in other regions, with the monthly transactions peaking at $20 billion in mid-2021.

The highest number of crypto users in the region are in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The majority of people in the region use cryptocurrencies to make commercial payments. However, the volatility of these assets makes them unsuitable for use as a store of value.

Policymakers have raised concerns about whether crypto assets can be used to make illegal transactions outside the region and to avoid the rules put in place to avoid capital outflows. The high use of cryptocurrencies in the region could reduce the effectiveness of the monetary policy, which poses a danger to financial and macroeconomic stability.

IMF concerned about the adoption of crypto as a legal tender

The IMF has also said that the cryptocurrency sector’s risks were higher if these assets were adopted as a legal tender, citing an example of the Central African Republic. The country became the second globally to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender. According to the IMF, holding crypto assets as a means of payment puts public finances at risk.

The IMF has also added that adopting BTC as a legal tender in the Central African Republic has caused conflict between the country and the Bank of Central Africa States (BEAC), as it violates the institution’s treaty. Central Africa’s Banking Commission, which oversees the BEAC banking sector, has banned using cryptocurrencies for financial transactions.

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Author: Ali Raza

Ali is a professional journalist with experience in Web3 journalism and marketing. Ali holds a Master’s degree in Finance and enjoys writing about cryptocurrencies and fintech. Ali’s work has been published on a number of leading cryptocurrency publications including Capital.com, CryptoSlate, Securities.io, Invezz.com, InsideBitcoins, BeinCrypto, and more. …

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Crypto Firm FTX’s Ownership of a U.S. Bank Raises Questions

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Among the many surprising assets uncovered in the bankruptcy of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX is a relatively tiny one that could raise big concerns: a stake in one of the country’s smallest banks.

The bank, Farmington State Bank in Washington State has a single branch and, until this year, just three employees. It did not offer online banking or even a credit card.

The tiny bank’s connection to the collapse of FTX is raising new questions about the exchange and its operations. Among them: How closely tied is FTX, which was based in the Bahamas, to the broader financial system? What else might regulators have missed? And in the hunt for FTX’s missing assets, how will Farmington get dragged into the multibillion-dollar bankruptcy?

The ties between FTX and Farmington State Bank began in March when Alameda Research, a small trading firm and sister to FTX, invested $11.5 million in the bank’s parent company, FBH.

At the time, Farmington was the nation’s 26th-smallest bank out of 4,800. Its net worth was $5.7 million, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The sudden collapse of the crypto exchange has left the industry stunned.

  • A Spectacular Rise and Fall: Who is Sam Bankman-Fried and how did he become the face of crypto? The Daily charted the spectacular rise and fall of the man behind FTX.
  • A Symbiotic Relationship: Mr. Bankman-Fried’s built FTX partly to help the trading business of Alameda Research, his first company. The ties between the two entities are now coming under scrutiny.
  • Missing Assets: Lawyers for FTX said a substantial amount of the company’s assets had either been stolen or were missing, casting doubt on the odds of recovering billions of dollars in crypto that customers lost.
  • A Bid for Influence: ​​In just three years, Mr. Bankman-Fried built a massive operation to woo politicians, regulators and nonprofits to support his crypto goals. Here’s how.

FTX’s investment, which according to financial regulators was more than double the bank’s net worth, was led by Ramnik Arora, a top lieutenant of the exchange’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. Mr. Arora was responsible for many of the much larger deals that FTX signed with Sequoia Capital and other venture capitalists that eventually failed.

Farmington has more than one crypto connection. FBH bought the bank in 2020. The chairman of FBH is Jean Chalopin, who, along with being a co-creator of cartoon cop Inspector Gadget in the 1980s, is the chairman of Deltec Bank, which, like FTX, is based in the Bahamas . Deltec’s best-known client is Tether, a crypto company with $65 billion in assets offering a stablecoin that is pegged to the dollar.

Tether has long faced concerns about its finances, in part because of its reclusive owners and offshore bank accounts. Through Alameda, FTX was one of Tether’s largest trading partners, raising concerns that the stablecoin could have yet-undiscovered ties to FTX’s fraudulent operations.

Before the acquisition, Farmington’s deposits had been steady at about $10 million for a decade. But in the third quarter of this year, the bank’s deposits jumped nearly 600 percent to $84 million. Nearly all of that increase, $71 million, came from just four new accounts, according to FDIC data.

It’s not clear what FTX’s plan was for Farmington. Online, Farmington now goes by Moonstone Bank. The name was trademarked a few days before FTX’s investment. Moonstone’s website doesn’t say anything about Bitcoin or other digital currencies. It says Moonstone wants to support “the evolution of next generation finance.”

Deltec and Moonstone did not return a request for comment.

It’s unclear how FTX was allowed to buy a stake in a US-licensed bank, which would need to be approved by federal regulators. Banking veterans say it’s hard to believe that regulators would have knowingly allowed FTX to gain control of a US bank.

“The fact that an offshore hedge fund that was basically a crypto firm was buying a stake in a tiny bank for multiples of its stated book value should have raised massive red flags for the FDIC, state regulators and the Federal Reserve,” said Camden Fine , a bank industry consultant who used to head the Independent Community Bankers of America. “It’s just astonishing that all of this got approved.”

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Will the Blockchain platforms Cardano and Theta network survive the fun cryptocurrency, Dogeliens token?

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The crypto market is releasing a bunch of new currencies. Dogelia’s Token (DOGET) is a fun meme coin. However, every cryptocurrency or blockchain has some specific field of interest. While Cardano (ADA) is building NFT platforms and allowing smart contracts, Theta Network (THETA) is changing the video streaming world. At the same time, DOGET is working to improve the Metaverse. Read this article to learn everything about these three cryptocurrencies and their goals.

Cardano (ADA) – Game-changer for the blockchain industry

Cardano (ADA) is a proof-of-stake blockchain platform working to bring about positive change in the crypto market. ADA lets its holders vote on changes to the software. The technology developed in this project is reviewed before its release. It makes the currency unique and different from others. Cardano (ADA) ensures a secure platform as it is under the Ouroboros protocol.

Rewards are offered to the token holders for their involvement in the process. It supports a wide range of crypto applications. It includes NFTs and smart contracts. Currently, ADA costs less than a dollar. It has been ranked in the top 10 currencies by CoinMarketCap. The all-time high value recorded in September 2021 was $3.10. The market cap value of ADA is around 11 billion dollars.

Theta Network (THETA) – decentralizing the world of video streaming

Theta Network (THETA) is a video streaming platform. Powered by blockchain, THETA intends to revolutionize the streaming industry. It will work to remove barriers between content creators and users. The main goal of THETA is to decentralize video streaming, making cost-effective and efficient sources for data delivery. Not only this! Theta is also creating decentralized applications (dApps). Currently, CoinMarketCap ranks ADA in the top 50 coins. When writing this article, its cost ranges between $0.5-$1.

Is Dogelia’s Token (DOGET) superseding the Metaverse?

The cross-chain cryptocurrency, Dogeliens Token (DOGET), is the native token of the Dogeliens ecosystem. Buyers can access it on Binance smart chain. Its mission is to work for a better crypto world by providing new games and educational content. Dogeliens Token (DOGET) provides an interactive environment to its users. Its token holders can experience the Metaverse together. The university of Barkington, one of the pillars of DOGET, offers free articles and videos on blockchain technology.

DOGET has plans to offer at every single stage of its presale. This DeFi pup-pet master will provide fun as well as education and charity. The users can share and modify the source code according to their requirements.

How to enter the presale? Read the steps below

Dogelia’s Token (DOGET) has entered stage 2 of the presale. Currently, 1 USDT equals 1000 DOGET tokens. If you want to be a part of the presale, go ahead.

  • The first step is to create an account with Metamask or connect your wallet using a desktop or mobile phone.
  • You can buy DOGET using ETH, BNB, or USDT and deposit the currency to buy tokens.
  • Press ‘Connect Wallet’. Select Metamask or wallet connect.
  • Select the coins you want to buy and claim on the main page.
  • Once the presale ends, coins will be yours!

Before diving into the pool of cryptocurrencies, buyers should get the proper education. DOGET provides all the fundamental crypto information to its holders. DOGET holders can then participate in the decision-making process through the platform. This is where it makes the difference!

To learn more about Dogelia’s Token (DOGET), you can visit the following links:

Presale: https://buy.dogeliens.io/

site: http://dogeliens.io/

Telegram: https://t.me/DogeliensOfficial

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The investment in crypto assets is not regulated, it may not be suitable for retail investors and the total amount invested could be lost
La inversión en criptoactivos no está regulada, puede no ser adecuada para inversores minoristas y perderse la totalidad del importe invertido
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