CFTC charges two men with $44 million cryptocurrency ‘Ponzi scheme’

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Thursday charged two US residents with fraud “akin to a Ponzi scheme” in soliciting about $44 million from at least 170 investors through a website and YouTube videos.

Sam Ikkurty of Portland, Oregon, and Ravishankar Avadhnam of Aurora, Illinois, were identified in the CFTC announcement, which added that a restraining order had been issued by a judge freezing assets controlled by the two, preserving records and appointing a temporary receiver.

The complaint alleges that the two solicited money from investors to “purchase, hold and trade digital assets, commodities, derivatives, swaps and commodity futures contracts.” Still, it says, rather than investing the funds as represented, they misappropriated them by distributing money to other participants, “in a manner akin to a Ponzi scheme.”

The defendants then transferred funds to accounts for their own benefit, including millions of dollars to an off-shore entity, the CFTC said. They are charged with operating an illegal commodity pool and failing to register as a commodity pool operator.