Eleven people were accused in the creation and promotion of a cryptocurrency-based pyramid scheme that authorities claimed drew more than $300 million from retail investors throughout the world.
In an Aug. 1 statement, the US Securities and Exchange Commission said it charged the four founders of Forsage and three local people who were employed by the founders to promote the pyramid scheme on its website and social media.
A number of members of the Crypto Crusaders were also named in the complaint, which was filed in Northern District of Illinois. According to the agency, the Crypto Crusaders are "the largest promotional group for the scheme."
According to the SEC's complaint, Vladimir Okhotnikov is the four founders; Jane Doe alias Lola Ferrari, Bali, Indonesia; and Mikhail Sergeev and Sergey Maslakov, Russia.
The SEC claimed that Forsage.io was a website through which millions of retail investors could make payments through smart contracts that worked on the ethereum, tron, and Binance blockchains.
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Forsage allegedly has operated as a pyramid scheme for more than two years, in which investors earned money by enlisting others into the scheme, according to the SEC. "Forsage allegedly used assets from existing investors to pay earlier investors in a typical Ponzi structure."
According to the SEC, Forsage was filed as a fraud in September 2020 by the Philippines' Securities and Exchange Commission, and in March 2021 by the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.
Despite the fact, the defendants allegedly continued to promote the scheme while refuting the allegations in several YouTube videos and other methods.
The 11 defendants have been charged with violating the federal securities laws' registration and antifraud provisions. The SECs have filed a lawsuit against them, requesting that they surrender their income from the scheme and pay civil penalties.
As of August 1, the Forsage website was still active.