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Mastermind of $147 Million Crypto 'Scam of Epic Proportions' Sentenced to 10 Years in US Prison

The mastermind of what the U.S. Department of Justice calls a scam of “epic proportions” has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. His crypto scheme collected over $147 million, duping 72,000 investors. He is also ordered to pay the U.S. Internal Revenue Service more than $1.8 million for tax evasion.

Scam Involving Fake Cryptocurrency

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday that a California man, Steve Chen, has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his “leading role” in a major crypto fraud case. Judge John Walter called Chen’s scheme a scam of “epic proportions.”

The DOJ explained that the 63-year-old conducted “a massive investment scam where a multinational company issued a phony digital currency purportedly backed by billions of dollars’ worth of amber and other gemstones.” Chen pleaded guilty in June last year to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.

Investors were duped into buying USFIA “packages” purportedly comprised amber and other gemstones, as well as USFIA “points.” They were told that these points could be converted to USFIA shares when the company had its IPO, which never happened. The investments range from $1,000 to $30,000 each. USFIA also “offered other bonuses – including cash, travel, luxury cars, homes in the Los Angeles area, and EB-5 visas for immigrant investors – to investors who recruited other people to purchase these ‘packages,'” the Justice department detailed.