The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, and the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security (“HSI”), Crypto Fraud Attorney Ivan J. Arvelo, have announced charges in two Indictments against the creators and promoters of the cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes IcomTech and Forcount (and later known as Weltsys).

A conspiracy to conduct wire fraud is alleged in United States v. David Carmona, et al., 22 Cr. 551 (JLR), which names defendants DAVID CARMONA, MARCO RUIZ OCHOA, MOSES VALDEZ, JUAN ARELLANO, DAVID BREND, and GUSTAVO RODRIGUEZ for their roles at IcomTech from roughly midway through 2018 to late 2019. From approximately midway through 2017 through at least approximately the end of 2021, the defendants in United States v. Francisley da Silva, et al., S1 22 Cr. 622 (AT) are accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud and committing wire fraud while working for Forcount. HERNANDEZ is charged with providing false statements, while SILVA and TACURI are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

With these two indictments, our Office is sending a message to all bitcoin scammers: We are coming for you,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. Even if it’s couched in the language of digital currency, theft is still stealing. The creators and backers of IcomTech and Forcount are finally being brought to justice, thanks to the efforts of authorities on a national and worldwide scale.

Crypto Fraud Attorney
“The enthusiasm around cryptocurrency and the promise to make enormous profits drew would-be investors to the alleged schemes perpetrated by the people accused today,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo. There is evidence that these individuals pretended to live extravagantly in order to attract investors; nevertheless, those who put their trust in them ended up having their money stolen and being left with nothing. The team at Homeland Security Investigations puts in long hours to find those responsible for financial crimes and bring them to justice.

Both IcomTech and Forcount posed as cryptocurrency mining and trading operations, promising investors (“Victims”) returns on their initial investments in the companies’ bogus wares. Each scheme’s creators and advocates made false promises to its Victims, including daily returns on investments and a doubling of those assets within six months as a consequence of income from cryptocurrency trading and mining. Both companies were Ponzi schemes in which victims’ money was used to pay off other victims, promote the schemes, and enrich the scheme creators and promoters.

The defendants at IcomTech and Forcount used similar tactics to deceive their victims into funding fake cryptocurrency ventures. Including in the Southern District of New York, the founders and promoters of the two schemes visited the United States and the world, holding opulent expos and small-town presentations, all with the goal of convincing victims to participate in the schemes. Promoter organizations would host large-scale events where they would pitch their investment goods and compensation plan, persuade victims to participate in the hope of reaching financial independence, and brag about the huge profits they were making. At major events, proponents of these scams would sometimes show up in flashy vehicles and designer threads to flaunt their apparently legal success from the schemes. These gatherings had a celebratory air to drum up interest in the plans at hand.

The victims of the IcomTech and Forcount schemes bought investment goods from the schemes’ promoters with fiat currency, checks, wire transfers, and even actual bitcoin. Once a Victim made an investment, they were given access to a secure website where they could track their “profits.” Victims saw “earnings” accrue on the web portals of the schemes, but they were unable to withdraw any of these “profits” and lost their whole deposits. In contrast, the promoters of Ponzi schemes like IcomTech and Forcount were able to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from their victims, which they then used to pay for things like advertising the schemes and lavish lifestyles like cars and homes.

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