California man pleads guilty to involvement in $722M BitClub Network Ponzi scheme

A California man has confessed to his involvement with the BitClub Network, a Ponzi scheme worth at least $722 million, according to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announcement released Thursday. 

According to the announcement, Joseph Frank Abel admitted to offering and selling unregistered securities in connection with the scheme. Abel pled guilty by video call before the U.S. District Judge Clair C. Cecchi. Abel also pled guilty to a separate charge that involved him subscribing to a false tax return in 2017. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) first charged Abel and two other men in December 2019. 

The BitClub Network scheme operated from April 2014 through December 2019. The over five-year-long scheme solicited money from investors in exchange for shares from fraudulent cryptocurrency mining pools. Abel promoted the network, selling shares despite knowing the network and its operators were not officially registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Abel faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. His sentencing is scheduled for January 2021.