Alleged “Ponzi Scheme” Forsage Founders indicted by US DOJ
- The founders-Vladimir Okhotnikov, Olena Oblamska, Mikhail Sergeev, and Sergey Maslakov, have been accused of aggressively promoting Forsagea as a legitimate and lucrative business opportunity.
- Each of the founders are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Founders behind the alleged $340 Million Pyramid Scheme “Forsage” have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Oregon. When a person is indicted, they are given formal notice that it is believed they committed a crime.
The Russian founders Vladimir Okhotnikov, Olena Oblamska, Mikhail Sergeev, and Sergey Maslakov have been accused of aggressively promoting Forsagea as a legitimate and lucrative business opportunity.
“When in reality the defendants operated Forsage as a Ponzi/ pyramid investment scheme that took in around $340 million from victim-investors around the world”, the U.S. Department of Justice statement reads.
DOJ adds that the analysis of the smart contracts revealed the funds raised as new investors purchased “slots” in Forsage’s smart contracts like Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Tron were diverted to older investors, as the case with a “Ponzi scheme.”
Talking about the case, U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight for the District of Oregon stated,“Today’s indictment is the result of a rigorous investigation that spent months piecing together the systematic theft of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
According to DOJ’s official statement, each founder is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If convicted, the founders face a maximum penalty of upto 20 years in prison.
In August 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged 11 people tied to the alleged $300 million crypto Ponzi scheme Forsage with fraud. Even before the US SEC accusation, the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines and the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance issued a cease-and-desist action against Forsage.
Forsage was launched in January 2020 by four founding members: Jane Doe aka Lola Ferrari of Indonesia, Vladimir Okhotnikov of the Republic of Georgia, Mikhail Sergeev, and Sergey Maslakov of Russia.
Within a few months of its launch, the platform grew to be one of the most popular decentralized apps on the ETH blockchain. As per blockchain analytics firm Dune’s data, at its peak, Forsage consumed roughly a quarter of the blockchain’s bandwidth and caused gas fees to spike.