An 11-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Dwayne Golden, Gregory Aggesen, and Marquis Demacking Egerton, the owners and operators of the web-based virtual currency companies EmpowerCoin, ECoinPlus and Jet-Coin, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and related substantive counts, in connection with a sophisticated scheme to steal assets from investors. Golden, Aggesen and William White were also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstructing justice and tampering with evidence. The defendants were arrested this morning and will be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York at a later date.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) announced the arrests and charges.
“As alleged, the defendants engaged in a sophisticated scheme that preyed on unsuspecting investors nationwide with false promises of guaranteed returns and virtual currency trading opportunities. When the companies collapsed and their criminal conduct was about to be exposed, the defendants attempted to cover their tracks and destroy evidence,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The scams may have been online and virtual, but these charges are very real. This Office is committed to protecting the public from criminals who view cryptocurrency as a new frontier to perpetrate old fashioned crimes of fraud and money laundering.”
Mr. Peace also thanked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for their assistance in this matter.
“Whether we’re dealing with virtual currency or cold-hard cash, schemers continue to capitalize on investors’ best intentions and pocket their ill-gotten gains,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll. “As alleged, those charged today defrauded their victims and generated more that $40 million for their own benefit. This office remains committed to rooting out fraud in all its forms.”
According to the indictment, between April 2017 and August 2017, Golden, Aggesen, and Egerton, together with others, operated a series of web-based virtual currency companies known as EmpowerCoin, ECoinPlus and Jet-Coin. The websites for EmpowerCoin, ECoinPlus and Jet-Coin fraudulently promised investors and potential investors guaranteed fix returns on virtual currency investments. They falsely promised investors and potential investors that these returns were made possible through overseas virtual currency trading operations. Investors and potential investors were encouraged to invest in the companies with either cash or Bitcoin. In reality, the assets were used to repay other investors or simply stolen, including by Golden, Aggesen and Egerton. Golden maintained exclusive access to the Bitcoin and often siphoned Bitcoin funds off the top before paying any investors. The companies collapsed shortly after receiving the investors’ assets, without having engaged in trading activity. In total, EmpowerCoin, ECoinPlus and Jet-Coin received more than $40 million from investors.
The indictment further alleges that, from July 2017 to the present, Golden, Aggesen and White conspired to obstruct a Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) investigation and a federal criminal grand jury investigation into the fraudulent schemes. Golden, Aggesen and White allegedly destroyed evidence, and White, on Aggesen’s behalf, provided false and misleading information to the FTC and in response to a federal grand jury subpoena.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.
If you were an EmpowerCoin.com, ECoinPlus.com and/or Jet-Coin.com customer and would like to file a complaint, please visit www.iC3.gov. Please reference “EmpowerCoin,” “ECoinPlus” or “Jet-Coin” in your complaint.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Alixandra E. Smith, Catherine M. Mirabile and Nick M. Axelrod are in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of Assistant United States Attorney Claire Kedeshian of the Office’s Asset Recovery Section who is handling forfeiture matters.