The founders of Forsage, a decentralized finance crypto investment platform, were indicted for their alleged roles in a $340 million “global Ponzi and pyramid scheme.”
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging four Russian nationals for their role at the platform: Vladimir Okhotnikov, Olena Oblamska, Mikhail Sergeev and Sergey Maslakov.
All four were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and could face 20 years in jail if convicted.
“The defendants aggressively promoted Forsage to the public through social media as a legitimate and lucrative business opportunity, but in reality, the defendants operated Forsage as a Ponzi and pyramid investment scheme that took in approximately $340 million from victim-investors around the world,” the Justice Department said in a press release.
The indictment comes months after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged nearly a dozen people for their alleged roles at Forsage.
The defendants are accused of coding and deploying smart contracts that “systemized their combined Ponzi-pyramid scheme” on the Ethereum blockchain, the Binance Smart Chain and the Tron blockchain. Court documents say that when an investor put their funds into Forsage, the smart contract automatically diverted them to another investor.
More than 80% of Forsage investors received fewer ETH than they invested, and more than 50% never received a payout, according to the Justice Department.
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