The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued a Texas man over claims he operated a Ponzi scheme involving Bitcoin, the virtual currency that has recently attracted investors including Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.
Trendon T. Shavers raised at least 700,000 Bitcoin starting no later than September 2011 through his firm Bitcoin Savings and Trust and improperly used currency from new investors to cover investor withdrawals, the SEC said in a complaint filed today in federal court in Texas.
Shavers falsely promised investors as much as 7 percent interest weekly on purported trades, including selling the online currency to individuals who wished to buy it “off the radar,” quickly or in large quantities, the SEC said. Shavers also misappropriated investors’ funds for his personal use, according to the complaint.
“Fraudsters are not beyond the reach of the SEC just because they use Bitcoin or another virtual currency to mislead investors and violate the federal securities laws,” Andrew Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York office, said in a statement. “Shavers preyed on investors in an online forum by claiming his investments carried no risk and huge profits for them while his true intentions were rooted in nothing more than personal greed.”
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