A new and very recent filing by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (known as the SEC) sheds light on three individuals who allegedly raised millions of dollars against more than 1,000 victims. The individuals are actually ministers involved in the Ponzi scheme, who used their influence to lure people in, getting away with more than $27 million.
“From 2017 to May 2019, Jali, Frimpong, and Johnson, directly and through two entities created to perpetrate the scheme, Smart Partners and 1st Million (the ‘Companies’), fraudulently raised more than $27 million from approximately 1,200 investors, many of them African immigrants.”
The allegations also claim that these three individuals used their influence in churches and health care, as they preyed on commonalities and beliefs of the people around them for financial gain. Johnson (one of the ministers involved) was actually claiming to be a minister, while Jali was a pastor at seven church locations, as the legal document shows.
The three individuals lured people and told them that they would make profit on crypto and Forex on their behalf. Moreover, they claimed to be experts in the field, promising to give back the people’s initial invested capital one year later. The filing also shows that the ministers involved spent the money on themselves, instead of using it as advertised:
“From 2017 to May 2019, Defendants offered and sold to investors in Maryland and several other states, including Georgia, Florida, and Texas, among others, contracts with the Companies in which they falsely promised, among other things, to generate profits for investors by trading Forex and cryptocurrency.”
In the document, we can also see that the scammers demanded a $5,000 investment from people as a minimum and their common requirement. What they advertised was a scheme that delivered profits between 6% and 42% per month or financial quarter. The accused paid out some of the earlier investors in order to ward suspicion, but managed to scam more than 1,200 people and get away with millions of dollars.
This is not a new case in the Bitcoin news. As reported before, there have been many cases with high-profile individuals who did similar activities, using the prosperous world of cryptocurrency as bait.