In what might be just one of the major cryptocurrency ripoffs ever, BitConnect and its founder have been charged with defrauding buyers of $2 billion in money they reported would be employed to trade Bitcoin.

In accordance to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, BitConnect executed a fraudulent and unregistered providing and sale of securities concerning January 2017 and January 2018 in the kind of investments in a “Lending Program” that would trade Bitcoin contributed by buyers utilizing a “volatility program buying and selling bot.”

But alternatively than deploy investor money for buying and selling with its purported bot, the SEC reported in a civil grievance, BitConnect founder Satish Kumbhani diverted money for the gain of himself and associates he hired to promote the Lending System to buyers.

1 of people promoters, Glenn Arcaro, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to connected prison rates.

“We allege that these defendants stole billions of pounds from retail buyers all around the environment by exploiting their fascination in electronic property,” Lara Shalov Mehraban, affiliate regional director of the SEC’s New York regional office, reported in a information release.

Launched by Kumbhani, an Indian citizen, in 2016, BitConnect produced a electronic token referred to as BitConnect Coin (BCC) that could be exchanged for Bitcoin. Underneath the Lending System, buyers could transfer Bitcoin to BitConnect to purportedly invest in BCC tokens and then “lend” the tokens to BitConnect, which, in turn, would trade them by using its proprietary bot.

The BitConnect web-site marketed income for buyers as large as 40% fascination for each month “with no danger,” and the plan ultimately succeeded in getting a lot more than 325,000 bitcoin, or somewhere around $2 billion, from buyers around the globe.

“To mask the reality that they have been not deploying investor money to be traded with the purported buying and selling bot they explained to buyers, BitConnect and Kumbhani executed a Ponzi-like plan in which they at situations employed money deposited by newer buyers in get to satisfy withdrawal demands manufactured by before buyers,” the SEC reported.

In accordance to the commission, Arcaro gained a lot more than $24 million in “referral commissions” and “development funds” from the plan and Kumbhani transferred a lot more than $12.4 million to wallet addresses recognized to be managed by him.

bitcoin, BitConnect, cryptocurrency, Ponzi plan, Satish Kumbhani, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission