The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is nearing settlements with four U.S.-based individuals accused of promoting the multi-billion dollar crypto Ponzi scheme, BitConnect.
According to Law360, the terms of the settlements are currently awaiting final approval from Judge John Koeltl. The judge noted that while agreements’ terms are currently legally sound, minor fixes are needed to be made to ensure they are “scrupulously accurate.”
The agreements include a more than $3 million settlement from Joshua Heppensen of Massachusetts and $576,000 from his fiancee Laura Mascola, $526,000 from Ryan Maasen of Oklahoma, and an unspecified amount from Michael Noble of California.
The SEC filed lawsuits against six of the scheme’s promoters in May of this year, alleging they offered and sold unregistered securities in the United States, including advertising BitConnect’s lending platform in testimonial-style videos. The two remaining defendants — Trevon Brown of South Carolina, and Craig Grant of Florida — are yet to agree to settlement terms with the SEC.
The Law360 report notes that throughout 2017, the company lured investors with promises of “no risk” returns, enticing them to pledge BTC used as collateral against which they could borrow and trade its native BitConnect Coin.
When the firm abruptly closed its lending platform in January 2018 after receiving cease and desist order from state regulators in North Carolina and Texas, investors were unable to redeem their BTC holdings, and were left holding the bag as BitConnect Coin rapidly crashed by more than 90%.
BitConnect is among the largest Ponzi schemes to have infiltrated the crypto sector, having duped roughly $2.5 billion from thousands of investors over the span of one year.
The fall-out from the scam has been global in reach, with 52-year-old Australian promoter, John Louis Anthony Bigatton, facing six charges carrying penalties of between two and ten years for his role in the scheme.