SEC charges Texas couple in fraudulent water-backed crypto token scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sued a Texas couple for allegedly defrauding hundreds of investors through three investment offerings totaling half a million dollars.

In a Friday press release, the SEC announced a federal court lawsuit filed against Texas residents Shuwana Leonard and former pastor Larry Donnell Leonard. According to the Complaint, the Leonards used their two companies – Teshuater and Teshua Business Group – to collect almost $500,000 in three fraudulent offerings from over 500 investors. 

The SEC says that the Leonards first sold fake stock certificates in their alkaline water company Teshuater. They then allegedly attempted to carry out a $20 million sale of cryptocurrency TeshuaCoin on the false claim that the coin was backed by the company's water products. Moreover, they allegedly collected funds for a bitcoin mining investment that does not exist and then spent the money on speculative options trades.

According to the complaint, the Leonards targeted African American investors specifically and managed to defraud over 500 victims from all over the country.

The SEC has now charged the Leonards, as well as their two companies, with violating the Securities Act's anti-fraud and registration provisions. The agency is seeking permanent and conduct-based injunctions, disgorgement of the allegedly criminal profits, and civil penalties.