Some people assume that law enforcement doesn’t pay much attention to white-collar crimes and that the punishment is always lenient. This is not true, and three Centra Tech co-founders are finding that out the hard way. The Florida cryptocurrency firm and its founders face a slew of allegations involving financial crimes.
In 2017, Centra Tech’s three co-founders launched a website and announced the next innovation in cryptocurrency. The announcement proclaimed that Centra Tech customers would be able to trade and manage all of their virtual currencies in real time and without many of the fees charged by other companies. The “Centra Card,” the three claimed, would be the future of cryptocurrency.
The three men spared no expense maximizing the hype; they reportedly paid celebrities at least $150,000 to promote the startup. Boxer Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled were both paid to promote Centra Tech’s groundbreaking Initial Coin Offering.
The celebrity hype and the considerable investment response got the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission. After a bit of digging, the SEC fined Mayweather and Khaled for failing to disclose that they were paid by Centra Tech for their endorsements.
During its investigation, the SEC reportedly discovered that Centra Tech invented fake staff with fake credentials, made false statements about the Centra Card being licensed by the likes of Visa, Mastercard and Bancorp and may have scammed thousands of investors.
One of the co-founders already plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. His sentence is expected to be between 70 and 87 months in prison. The remaining two co-defendants are facing charges for similar white-collar crimes. According to reports, the two could face up to a decade behind bars.
An individual accused of fraud or other white-collar crimes may want to consult an attorney as soon as possible about mounting a defense. If evidence against them is compelling, an attorney might recommend negotiating a plea deal that reduces the charges.