SEC charges 17 individuals in $300m crypto Ponzi scheme

The SEC has charged 17 individuals for their involvement in a $300 million Ponzi scheme targeting predominantly Latino investors through the so-called CryptoFX LLC.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has brought charges against 17 individuals implicated in a $300 million Ponzi scheme, targeting predominantly Latino investors in the U.S. and two other nations.

The scheme, as detailed in a press release issued on Mar. 14, allegedly operated out of Houston, Texas, targeting over 40,000 investors across 10 states and two foreign countries with promises of substantial wealth through “risk-free” and “guaranteed” crypto and foreign exchange investments.

This action by the SEC follows its previous emergency intervention in September 2022, which halted CryptoFX’s operations and implicated its key figures, Mauricio Chavez and Giorgio Benvenuto.

According to the investigation, the 17 individuals charged, originating from Texas, California, Louisiana, Illinois, and Florida, are accused of orchestrating the CryptoFX network and enticing investors with potential returns ranging from 15% to 100%. However, funds purportedly allocated for trading were instead used “to pay commissions and bonuses to themselves and investors, and to fund their own lifestyles,” the SEC says.

The SEC has leveled various charges against the defendants, accusing them of breaking rules related to fraud, registering securities, registering as brokers, and protecting whistleblowers. Two of the defendants, Luis Serrano and Julio Taffinder, have accepted final judgments without admitting or denying guilt, the SEC noted. They’ve agreed to pay a total of over $68,000 in penalties, disgorgement, and interest.

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