Abstract：Discover the shocking truth about the AirBit Club Ponzi scheme! Co-founder sentenced to 12 years for defrauding investors of $100 million. Learn how they operated and what led to their downfall. Stay informed about crypto scams and protect your investments.
Simple Words, Big Scams: How AirBit Club Fooled Investors Out of $100 Million
Scams are sadly becoming more widespread as the popularity of cryptocurrencies grows. One famous example is AirBit Club, a phony “cryptocurrency trading club” that turned out to be a pyramid fraud. Pablo Rodriguez, the AirBit Club co-founder, was recently sentenced to 12 years in jail for wire fraud and operating this Ponzi scheme.
Pablo Rodriguez claimed that AirBit Club would provide investors with huge returns through cryptocurrency trading and mining. However, according to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Rodriguez “preyed on unsophisticated investors” by promising false opportunities. Instead of genuinely investing the money, Rodriguez laundered it through a complicated setup involving Bitcoin, international front companies, and attorney trust accounts.
Rodriguez will serve three years of supervised release in addition to his 12-year sentence. He was also sentenced to lose $65 million in addition to other assets such as 3,800 Bitcoins (worth $100 million), a California house, and approximately $1 million formerly held for a Gulfstream Jet. Other defendants in the case have pled guilty and are awaiting their sentences, including Dos Santos, Scott Hughes, Cecilia Millan, and Karina Chairez.
Prior to their involvement in AirBit Club, Rodriguez and Dos Santos had previously faced legal action from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for running another fraudulent investment operation called Vizinova. They were required to pay $1.7 million in penalties and disgorgement. Hughes, a California-licensed attorney, represented both Rodriguez and Dos Santos during the SEC proceedings related to Vizinova. Subsequently, Hughes assisted the duo in executing the AirBit Club scam, including efforts to erase negative online information about both AirBit Club and Vizinova.
Rodriguez, a 40-year-old resident of Irvine, California, received not only a prison sentence but also three years of supervised release. Additionally, he was mandated to forfeit $65 million along with various assets. These include nearly $1 million previously held in escrow for a Gulfstream Jet, over 1,322 Bitcoins from multiple wallets, approximately $896,483 in cash seized from his home in California, the property itself located at 117 Amber Sky in Irvine, as well as several pieces of watches and jewelry. He also had to give up about 2,500 Bitcoins from different wallets.
Dos Santos, 48, of Panama City, Panama, and Millan, 41, of Greensboro, North Carolina, Chairez, 47, of Modesto, California, and Hughes, 47, of Newport Beach, California, have all admitted to multiple offenses. These allegations include wire fraud conspiracy, which has a possible prison term of 20 years, money laundering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and bank fraud conspiracy, which carries a maximum punishment of 30 years. Dos Santos will be sentenced on October 3, 2023, while Millan, Chairez, and Hughes will be sentenced on October 4, 2023.
This should serve as a cautionary note, particularly given that such thefts will cost a staggering $7.6 billion in 2022 alone, according to research from blockchain analytics startup TRM Labs. If an offer seems to be too good to be true, it almost always is. Before investing your hard-earned money, always do extensive study and contact with financial professionals.
Pablo Rodriguez, the AirBit Club co-founder, was sentenced to jail for operating a Ponzi scam and duping customers by masquerading as a professional Bitcoin trading club. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of crypto fraud, with billions of dollars in damages. Use great care and do exhaustive research before investing in any scam, crypto or otherwise.
Stay alert, stay informed, and stay safe.
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