Leader of $30M crypto scam pleads guilty to fraud

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announces that Michael Ackerman, who orchestrated a multimillion-dollar cryptocurrency investment scheme, pleaded guilty to wire fraud today before United States Chief District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

As FX News Group has reported, Ackerman and the DOJ had been discussing resolution of the proceedings.

Ackerman admitted to causing victim losses of more than $30 million.

In or about 2017, Ackerman and others started a purported cryptocurrency “investment” fund and recruited hundreds of individual investors into the Fund. The Fund was an investment club that allowed its members to contribute U.S. dollars, which the investors were told would then be used to invest and trade in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Ackerman was held out as the Fund’s chief trading officer and personally controlled the Fund’s primary trading account on an online cryptocurrency exchange. Based on figures provided by him, the Fund claimed that its proprietary trading algorithm was earning approximately 15 percent in profit for investors each month.

Instead of investing and trading on behalf of the Fund, Ackerman stole at least $9 million in investor contributions and used them to bankroll a lavish lifestyle that included his purchase of multiple pieces of real estate, hundreds of thousands of dollars of Tiffany jewelry, vehicles, travel, and personal security services.

The count of wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Under the terms of his plea, Ackerman agreed to make restitution of at least $30,667,738.79. He also agreed to forfeiture of $36,268,515, including the millions of dollars in cash, real estate, and jewelry that were fraudulently obtained from victims or bought with victim funds.

Ackerman is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Swain on January 5, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.

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