A U.S. court has sentenced Jerry Ji Guo, a resident of San Francisco, to an effective six months in prison for his role in a fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO). In addition to the prison term, the court ordered Guo to pay over $4 million in restitution. Further, Guo will also cooperate with the government in the identification and return of the stolen property.
Embezzlement of Client Funds
In a statement, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) says Guo, who pleaded guilty on August 26, 2019, had presented himself “as an ICO consultant and promised his clients he would perform marketing and publicity services.” However, instead of fulfilling his promises, Guo “embezzled the clients’ cash and cryptocurrency.”
As court documents show, a U.S. grand jury initially indicted Guo on November 15, 2018, charging him with “eight counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.” However, the statement says Guo only pleaded guilty to one count while the rest of the charges were dismissed.
Meanwhile, in his remarks, the United States Attorney David L. Anderson, suggests that the country’s law enforcement has now caught up with crypto criminals. He says:
Some criminals believe mistakenly that cryptocurrency is beyond the reach of law enforcement. This case shows we can use criminal forfeiture to compensate fraud victims even when cryptocurrency is used in the fraud.
According to the DOJ statement, after Guo’s indictment, the government went on to obtain a “stipulated application for a preliminary order of forfeiture” on November 14, 2019. Further, the government also obtained warrants to seize the stolen cash and cryptocurrency while a “final order of forfeiture against the stolen property” was obtained on February 26, 2020.
In the meantime, the DOJ statement goes on to say that the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, a component of the DOJ’s Criminal Division “will use the victim restoration process to return stolen property to victims.”
Do you think the DOJ will enjoy similar success in other ICO fraud cases? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.