Instagram influencer Jebara Igbara, who accumulated a million followers, was indicted on wire fraud charges related to a cryptocurrency scam, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors said Igbara, also known as ‘Jay Mazini’, offered to wire his followers cash transfers in exchange for selling him their Bitcoins at prices above market value. Instagram celeb claimed that the reason for paying above-market prices was that crypto exchanges were limiting how much Bitcoin he could purchase.
While victims sent more than $3 million worth of bitcoin to Igbara’s wallets, he never fully paid senders and, instead, sent them fabricated statements for fake bank transfers.
Federal investigators identified one of Igbara’s followers who sent him 50 bitcoins. The scammer promised to send back up to $2.5 million, but the victim who participated in the fake offer got less than $500,000 in return, said the filing.
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“Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values. A behind-the-scenes look, however, revealed things aren’t always as they seem. There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims. A quick search of the Interwebs today will reveal an entirely different image of this multimillion-dollar scammer,” stated FBI Assistant Director, Sweeney.
As of the time of publication, Jay Mazini’s profile has taken down all posts though it is not clear if the page was taken down as a result of the lawsuit or leading up to it. Cashed versions show the popular Instagram account posting pictures of jet-setting lifestyle, including sports cars that he allegedly gained from cryptocurrencies and claimed customers can do the same.
Filed in a Brooklyn federal court, the complaint appears poised to raise a fresh challenge around the liability of social media channels for material that users post on their platforms.
In August 2020, Ripple sued YouTube alleging the video-sharing platform failed to protect consumers from cryptocurrency scams that use fake social media profiles to bait viewers into sending thousands of dollars.