CoinDeal Fraud Case: Nevada Man Charged with $45M Crypto Scam

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Key takeaways:

  • The U.S. Department of Justice accused a Nevada man of participating in the CoinDeal cryptocurrency scam.
  • Bryan Lee coordinated closely with company founder Neil Chandran to steal money.

In connection with his involvement in the bitcoin fraud scheme CoinDeal, the U.S. Department of Justice filed charges against a man from Nevada.

Charges relating to the CoinDeal cryptocurrency fraud scheme were brought against a man from Las Vegas by authorities today. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed on May 19 that Bryan Lee collaborated with others to scam over 10,000 investors out of $45 million. 

Investigators claim that CoinDeal was a blockchain-based investment fraud using the metaverse and a new cryptocurrency. The DOJ claims that because wealthy investors were expected to participate, it guaranteed investors “extremely high” returns. 

However, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claimed in January that it was nothing more than an “elaborate scheme” in which the defendants made money while cheating tens of thousands of ordinary customers. Several people were accused of breaking securities regulations at the time. 

The DOJ filed fresh criminal allegations against Lee and his colleague Neil Chandran, alleging they stole millions of dollars from investors’ money and used it to buy real estate and opulent cars. 

One of those businesses, ViMarket, claimed to be developing V.R. and “metaverse” technology as well as a related cryptocurrency, and Lee was the nominee owner and director of that business. Lee complied with Chandran’s instructions and transferred investor monies into ViMarket’s bank accounts, notwithstanding Chandran’s assurances to investors of “extremely high returns.”

According to the DOJ, both people spent millions of dollars worth of stolen money on luxury cars and real estate, and other non-business items. Along with the FBI Field Offices in Las Vegas and Omaha, the FBI Washington Field Office is looking into the case. 

On numerous counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and participating in financial transactions on property obtained illegally, Lee faces a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison. However, he has not yet been proven guilty, and he will appear in court for the first time right away.

In June 2022, the DOJ separately filed charges against Chandran, who was detained then. The organization added that Michael Glaspie, a different conspirator, entered a guilty plea in February 2023 and will be sentenced in June.

In January 2023, the U.S. SEC filed further charges against eight parties concerning the CoinDeal scheme.

A Vietnamese court recently gave two men life terms for stealing over VN$37 billion (about $1.5 million) in bitcoin during a heist that involved kidnapping victims and threatening to inject them with HIV-infected needles.

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