The U.S. Department of Justice has indicted the operator of a BTC escrow on charges of defrauding two of his clients out of $7 million. Federal authorities said John Barry Thompson is charged with two counts of wire fraud and commodities fraud which collectively carry a maximum prison sentence of 60 years.
In its press release, the DoJ revealed that a grand jury in the Southern District of New York had returned an indictment charging Thompson with fraud. Thompson was the principal of Volantis Escrow Platform LLC and the related Volantis Market Making LLC.
In a separate action, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also filed civil charges against Thompson.
The charges are related to allegations that Thompson defrauded $7 million from two clients in 2018. According to the DoJ, the 48-year-old man made false statements to an unnamed company in 2018, convincing the company to send him $3 million to buy BTC. He assured the company that the transaction was guaranteed as “cash is with me, coin is with me.” However, he didn’t have the coins as promised and he ended up sending part of the money to a third party to purchase the BTC. He then lied for days about the status of the transaction and in the end, he never returned the funds.
A month after the debacle, he enticed yet another unnamed company with promises of a guaranteed BTC purchase. The company sent him $4 million, and just like in the first case, he sent the money to a third party and never refunded the company.
Geoffrey Berman, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, commented, “As alleged, Jon Barry Thompson repeatedly lied to investors in cryptocurrencies about the safety of their investments made through his companies. As a result of Thompson’s lies, investors lost millions of dollars.”
The Easton, Pennsylvania, resident is charged with two counts of commodities fraud, each of which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. He’s also charged with two counts of wire fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
The DoJ was the first U.S. regulator to pursue Thompson, with the CFTC following that up with civil charges. However, in November 2019, the U.S. government intervened, requesting the CFTC to stay its charges against the alleged cryptocurrency scammer as they could interfere with a parallel criminal case against him.