The Montana state securities regulator has issued a cease and desist order against an alleged digital currency pyramid scheme. Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI), Montana State Auditor Troy Downing said the scam has been operating from the Philippines but targeting U.S. residents.
The state regulator has received multiple complaints from Montana residents regarding Forsage, Downing said.
“Forsage does not try to hide the fact they are a pyramid scheme. Members must pay with Ethereum cryptocurrency to the person above them to buy a position on the pyramid. The currency used to buy the position goes directly to the participant above,” the commissioner said.
Headed by Lado Okhotnikov, the Philippines-based Forsage allegedly targeted unsuspecting victims who were lured with promises of zero-risk investment, authorities said. As Downing pointed out, “Every investment carries risk. A claim to the contrary is a significant red flag to walk away and alert our agency.”
The commissioner urged all residents in the state to stay away from the scam. Downing added that he had directed his agency to commit all available resources to hold Okhotnikov and his co-conspirators accountable. A fine not exceeding $5,000 will be imposed for each identifiable violation, as well as a fine not exceeding $20,000 per violation of a vulnerable person as well as restitution for financial losses. Okhotnikov has 24 days to contest the Commissioner’s proposed action.
The Montana regulator joins the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which issued a cease and desist order against the scam in October. As CoinGeek reported at the time, the SEC also branded Forsage a pyramid scheme in which new investors paid off their predecessors. However, despite the SEC order, Forsage continued to lure in thousands. At one point, it was the decentralized application that had the most users and volume on the Ethereum blockchain.