100 Investors Duped in $6 Million 'Blessings Thru Crypto' Scam
The age-old adage that "if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is" holds even truer in the world of finance, particularly when dealing with cryptocurrencies. In a recent case that underscores this caution, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has filed a lawsuit against Michael and Amanda Griffis, residents of Clarksville, Tennessee. The couple is alleged to have masterminded a crypto trading scheme called 'Blessings Thru Crypto' or 'Blessings of God Thru Crypto,' which scammed over 100 investors of at least $6 million, per Yahoo!Finance. Despite their assurances of legitimacy, it appears that the investors were victims of a well-orchestrated fraud.
Promises of outsize returns
The lawsuit alleges that the Griffis couple enticed investors by offering them substantial returns on their investment. Participants were asked to pool their money to "bet on the future price of cryptocurrency," with promises of receiving monthly profits ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 on an initial investment of $12,000. The couple allegedly assured potential investors that the opportunity was risk-free and there was no hidden agenda, claiming, "No one is here to scam you."
False claims and misuse of funds
According to the CFTC's lawsuit, the money collected from investors was never used for actual futures trading. Instead, it is believed that the Griffis couple spent a significant portion of the funds on personal expenses and purchases. They allegedly used at least $1 million for their own benefit, including buying expensive items like jewelry, an all-terrain vehicle, and even paying off credit card debt. The lawsuit further claims that approximately $4.1 million was sent to "anonymous digital wallets controlled by unknown third parties," adding complexity to the investigation.
The rise of crypto-related lawsuits
The CFTC's lawsuit against Michael and Amanda Griffis is one among many actions taken by various regulatory agencies against crypto companies and founders. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have also been actively involved in what appears to be a coordinated crackdown on fraudulent schemes in the crypto industry. While this particular case may not significantly impact the overall crypto market, it highlights the importance of stringent regulatory measures to protect investors from exploitation.
Fabricated tales of winning
As per court documents, the scheme was initiated around July 2022, with Michael Griffis portraying himself as the initial 'Guinea pig' of the trading pool. He claimed to have invested $1,000 in July, which reportedly resulted in immense profits over time. To lend credibility to their venture, the couple attributed their pool's success to the expertise of a certain 'Coach Wendy' and her team of 30 to 40 traders. However, investigations suggest that the winnings were likely fabricated to lure more investors into their fraudulent scheme.
Accountability and consequences
Ian McGinley, the CFTC's director of enforcement, emphasized the agency's commitment to holding those who take advantage of victims accountable. The lawsuit against the Griffis aims to shed light on their deceptive practices and seek justice for the defrauded investors. However, the extent to which the affected investors will be able to recover their losses remains uncertain, given the complex nature of cryptocurrency transactions and the involvement of anonymous digital wallets.
Cryptocurrency frauds continue to rise
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners determined that 8 percent of all global fraud cases involved the use of cryptocurrencies, per KPMG. Among these cases, bribery and kickback payments make up 48 percent and 43 percent involves converting misappropriated assets to cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency scams have become increasingly prevalent, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and older adults, who often possess significant wealth, are particularly vulnerable to crypto scams. In a similar cyrpto scam case, 74-year-old Naum Lantsman initially invested $500 with the fake platform SpireBit, only to be lured into investing his entire life savings, totaling over $340,000—all of which he lost.
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