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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

SEC files charges against crypto-asset seminar operation

Securities Courts Digital Assets SEC Enforcement Cryptocurrency Fraud Securities Act Securities Exchange Act Investment Advisers Act


On September 19, the SEC filed a complaint against a two individuals and the companies they controlled (collectively, “defendants”) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for allegedly operating an on-going fraudulent and unregistered crypto-asset offering targeting Latino investors. According to the SEC, the defendants allegedly raised more than $12 million from over 5,000 investors who paid for seminars to learn how to build wealth through crypto-asset trading. However, the SEC claimed that one of the individual defendants—who founded the company and actually had no education or training in investments or crypto assets—used the seminars to solicit investors to give their money to the company and then supposedly used the funds to conduct crypto asset and foreign exchange trading. In total, the SEC alleged the individual defendants made roughly $2.7 million in Ponzi payments, diverting nearly $8 million for their own personal use. The complaint charges the defendants with violating, or aiding and abetting violations of, the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and the Securities Act. The company’s founder is also charged with violating the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The complaint seeks a permanent injunction against the defendants, civil penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and bars. The SEC stated in its announcement that, at the Commission’s request, the court issued a temporary restraining order to stop the offering, in addition to temporary orders freezing assets and granting additional emergency relief.