(PresidentialHill.com)- On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that two Estonian men were arrested last Sunday on an 18-count indictment related to a $575 million cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin, both 37, were apprehended in Tallinn, Estonia for allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of people out of their money through fraudulent equipment rental contracts with their cryptocurrency mining service called HashFlare.
The suspects also allegedly convinced their victims to invest in a phony virtual currency bank called Polybius Bank which does not exist.
In total, the victims paid $575 million to Potapenko and Turõgin’s companies which the pair then laundered through shell companies in order to purchase real estate and luxury cars.
In a Justice Department press release, Kenneth A. Polite, Jr, the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, warned the public that new technology has made it much easier for criminals to exploit innocent victims through “increasingly complex scams.”
Polite said the Justice Department remains committed to “preventing the public” from losing money to such scams and will ensure that criminals like Potapenko and Turõgin cannot keep “the fruits of their crimes.”
The FBI is currently investigating the case.
According to Assistant Director Luis Quesada from the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, the bureau will pursue suspects “across international boundaries” that utilize “increasingly complex schemes to defraud investors.”
Quesada said the victims of these scams believe that they are investing in “sophisticated virtual asset ventures” only to discover it was part of a “fraudulent scheme.”
Quesada thanked the FBI’s domestic and international law enforcement partners for their help in apprehending Potapenko and Turõgin and bringing “justice to the victims.”