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Cryptocurrency fraud scheme lands man 8 years in prison

By Associated Press
Published: February 1, 2023, 7:55am

BOSTON — The founder of a cryptocurrency and virtual payment services company who authorities say cheated dozens of investors out of about $7.5 million, which he used to buy a house, cars, jewelry, and other luxuries, has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison.

Randall Crater, 52, founded Las Vegas-based My Big Coin Pay Inc. in 2013, offering virtual payment services through a fraudulent digital currency, My Big Coin, from 2014 to 2017, the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement on Tuesday.

Crater and associates he paid to promote the scheme through social media, email and text messages, said the coins were a fully functioning cryptocurrency backed by gold; that the company had a partnership with MasterCard; and that the currency could be exchanged for government-backed currency or other virtual currencies, none of which was true, prosecutors said.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleged that My Big Coin was a fraud in January 2018.

Crater’s 55 victims had to delay retirement, lost tuition money, and suffered other financial hardships, Joseph Bonavolonta, head of the FBI’s Boston office, said in a statement.

“Spreading outright lies, Randall Crater defrauded dozens of victims out of more than $7.5 million, convincing them their cryptocurrency investments were backed by gold when in reality their hard-earned money went to funding his lavish lifestyle,” he said.

A federal jury convicted Crater in July of wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

In addition to eight years and four months behind bars, Crater, of Lake Mary, Florida, was sentenced to three years of probation, ordered to forfeit more than $7.5 million, and pay restitution of an amount to be determined.