By CCN Markets: A Michigander is facing 20 wire fraud and money laundering charges for carrying out a crypto investment scam that raked in an average of nearly $15,000 daily.
According to the prosecutors, James Matthew Thomas defrauded approximately $206,000 from his victims within a period of two weeks. The scam was carried out in his home state as well as in New Jersey, per the Missoulian. An indictment filed against him lists the charges as 16 counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering.
Per the charges, the investors were defrauded by Thomas in a total of 16 transactions. The funds were moved from the Coinbase crypto exchange accounts of the investors between March 20 and April 4 last year to a checking account belonging to the accused.
No money for a lawyer but plenty for Fords
Rather than invest the funds on behalf of his clients, Thomas used the funds to buy two cars, both Ford automobiles. Seven days after funds were moved from a Coinbase crypto exchange account to his checking account Thomas bought a 2010 Ford Edge, a midsize SUV. Three days later he also purchased a Lincoln MKX, a luxury midsize SUV.
The alleged crypto scammer also allocated some of the money for his living expenses. Besides transferring $15,000 to other checking accounts belonging to him, Thomas also made payments totaling close to $27,000 to a landlady, the prosecutors allege.
Interestingly, despite the amounts he raked in, Thomas is being represented by a public defender.
Crypto scams – getting worse or better?
The case highlights the fact that as the cryptocurrency space grows, scams are becoming more prevalent. This is borne out by the most recent report prepared by blockchain forensics firm CipherTrace.
The blockchain forensics firm estimates that in the first half of this year, cryptocurrency users and exchanges lost roughly $4.26 billion to scams, outright theft and misappropriation of funds. This was nearly a 300 percent increase from a similar period last year. During the first half of 2018, $1.2 billion was stolen.
Your Crypto Winter = Criminals’ Summer: Q1 2019 Crypto Thefts, Fraud Hit Whopping $1.2 Billion https://t.co/vMR4GQH9BC
— CCN Markets (@CCNMarkets) May 1, 2019