The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged former Washington state senator and two Florida residents with illegally profiting from defrauding customers through an ICO that raised $4.3 million through soliciting investors from the US and abroad.
The regulator on Friday filed an emergency court order to freeze the assets of Robert Dunlap and Nicole Bowdler, who worked with former state Sen. Dave Schmidt in arranging an ICO scheme called “Meta 1 Coin” that touted lucrative investment returns. The SEC also charged the defendants with providing pool participants with false statements that misrepresented the ICO’s profitability claiming that it would yield a 224,923 percent profit in less than a year.
On top of these charges, prosecutors accused the ICO organizers of deploying elaborate tactics and numerous false statements, including that the Meta 1 Coin was backed by a $1 billion art collection, and it has appointed specialists who realize how to spot genuine artistic creations. The scam operatives further claimed that their token is backed by $2 billion of gold and that an accounting firm was auditing the gold assets.
Instead, they spent the pool’s monies to pay for their personal expenses, including a $215,000 Ferrari, cash withdrawals, hotel, casino and restaurant expenses, and payments for other personal items.
Steven Seagal was fined in a similar case
While the defendants rewarded investors for recruiting new participants, the SEC describes these entities as fledgling companies with little to no actual business operations and few prospects for profitable operations.
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As explained in the order, the SEC also determined that Meta 1 Coin amounted to selling securities without filing a registration or qualifying for a registration exemption.
Now, the agency wants penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and permanent injunctions, although there is no guarantee for paying back victims.
If convicted with wire fraud, each defendant could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million while selling unregistered securities carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fiscal penalty.
The Meta 1 Coin case comes nearly three weeks after action film star Steven Seagal was fined for unlawfully touting cryptocurrencies and acting as the brand ambassador for a controversial initial coin offering (ICO), called Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G).