Roger Ver Released on Bail in Spain While Awaiting US Extradition

Authorities allege that Roger Ver defrauded the Internal Revenue Service of about $48 million by failing to report capital gains.

Roger Ver has been released on bail by a Spanish court, and now awaits potential extradition to the U.S. to face charges of mail fraud, tax evasion, and filing false tax returns. Meanwhile, three British nationals are charged in the U.S.for stealing almost $2.7 million through the "Evolved Apes" NFT scam. Additionally, New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing NovaTech and AWS Mining for defrauding investors out of over $1 billion, while a civil suit in Hong Kong accuses JPEX and others of fraud involving $208 million.

Roger Ver Faces US Extradition

Roger Ver, a well known early investor in Bitcoin, has been released on bail by a Spanish court while he waits to hear if he will be extradited to the United States. According to a Bloomberg report, Ver posted around $163,000 in bail on May 17, which then allowed him to leave Spanish jail. He now has to stay in Spain, surrender his passport, and appear in court every two days.

On Apr. 30, the U.S. Justice Department announced charges against Ver for mail fraud, tax evasion, and filing false tax returns. Authorities allege that he defrauded the Internal Revenue Service of about $48 million by failing to report capital gains from his sales of Bitcoin (BTC) and other assets.

Ver renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2014 and no longer holds a U.S. passport. He currently holds citizenship in Saint Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda. U.S. officials plan to extradite Ver from Spain to stand trial.

Ver is well known for his vocal advocacy of Bitcoin Cash, and was also involved in a 2022 scandal with CoinFlex, which claimed he owed the platform $47 million in USD Coin. Additionally, he previously spent 10 months in a U.S. federal prison in 2002 and 2003 for selling explosives on eBay.

The Justice Department stated that if he gets convicted, Ver could face a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison for each mail fraud count, up to five years for each tax evasion count, and up to three years for each count of subscribing to a false tax return.

British Trio Charged in NFT Scam

Roger Ver is not the only crypto criminal facing the wrath of the law at the moment. Three British nationals have been charged in the United States for their involvement in the "Evolved Apes" non fungible token (NFT) scam.

Mohamed-Amin Atcha, Mohamed Rilaz Waleedh, and Daood Hassan are accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering. According to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, the three allegedly inflated the prices of 10,000 NFTs by falsely promising to develop a video game, then transferred the funds and completely abandoned the project.

The scam resulted in the theft of almost 800 Ether, which was valued at close to $2.7 million at the time. The U.S. Attorney, Damian Williams, pointed out that making false promises for money is still illegal, regardless of the medium. The three earned more than $2 million from NFT sales on the first day, Sept. 24, 2021, during the peak of the NFT market.

The Evolved Apes website featured a "roadmap" and "phases" to lend some credibility to the project, with "Phase 5" promising an exclusive fighting game for NFT holders. However, the website was shut down on Oct. 5 of 2021.

Waleedh tried to transfer the stolen funds to a personal wallet, but the crypto exchange blocked the withdrawal, intending to investigate the source of the funds. He later convinced the exchange to release the funds by falsely claiming they were needed for his grandmother’s cancer treatment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking the forfeiture of $875,850 in Tether (USDT) from the defendants' wallet. If convicted, Atcha, Waleedh, and Hassan each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud and money laundering charges.

NovaTech and AWS Mining Sued

Additionally, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit alleging that two cryptocurrency firms, NovaTech and AWS Mining, defrauded hundreds of thousands of people, which resulted in losses of more than $1 billion. The suit names NovaTech’s founders, Cynthia and Eddy Petion, as well as other people and associated companies, as defendants.

It claims that more than 11,000 New York residents, particularly from the New York Haitian community, lost tens of millions of dollars by investing in NovaTech, which is described as a Ponzi scheme that used religious appeals to attract customers.

The lawsuit also alleges that NovaTech misrepresented its licensing and registration status. The company was registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines until its registration was canceled in January of 2023. NovaTech collapsed in May 2023.

Before founding NovaTech, the Petions were among the founders of AWS Mining, which closed in 2019 and is also believed to have been a Ponzi scheme.

The suit states that more than $1 billion in cryptocurrency was deposited in NovaTech between its founding in 2019 and 2023, but only $26 million was traded. Attorney General James is seeking disgorgement and damages and also plans to ban AWS Mining, NovaTech, and the Petions from conducting business in New York.

NovaTech’s website is actually still active, on which Cynthia Petion claims that the company’s funds were lost in a data breach and are in the process of being recovered. Additionally, a South African company using the same logo as NovaTech and featuring Cynthia Petion’s image was active in 2022 and 2023.

In 2018, the Texas State Securities Board issued a cease-and-desist order against a company named AWS Mining for similar tactics, but the Petions were not mentioned in that specific order.

JPEX Faces Civil Suit

Two people have filed a civil suit against crypto trading company JPEX and other defendants, accusing them of fraud involving 1.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($208 million). This is the first civil suit in the case, with more expected to follow.

Herbert Lam Sung-him and Chan Wing-yan are each seeking $236,500 in Hong Kong district court, according to the South China Morning Post. The pair filed three alternative claims on Jun. 4, allowing the court to choose between them.

The suit names JPEX, an affiliated company called Web3.0 Technical Support, other people involved in the scheme, three wallet holders, and Felix Chiu King-yin, the general manager of JPEX-associated crypto exchange Coingaroo, as defendants.

The lawsuit mostly centers on three transfers Chan made into JPEX wallets in July and August, which totaled $110,500 in Tether and $130,000 in cash at the current exchange rate. One transfer was made in Lam’s name. The plaintiffs were not able to withdraw the funds, which were transferred out of their wallets within just five minutes of deposit.

Chan and Lam’s lawyer, Joshua Chu Kiu-wah, stated that a civil suit is the only way for victims of the alleged fraud to recover their funds. He also believes that findings from the case could support a criminal investigation against the suspects.

The investigation into Dubai-based JPEX started in September after the Hong Kong Security and Futures Commission identified it as an unlicensed virtual asset trading platform. Eleven people were arrested that month, and by Jun. 3, the number of arrestees stood at 73, all of whom were released on bail.

Social media influencer Joseph Lam Chok, also known as Lin Zuo, was among those arrested and mentioned by name in the suit. By April, the police already received 2,265 complaints against JPEX. Legislator Johnny Ng Kit-chong stated he was in contact with hundreds of victims and knew of 10 more civil suits under consideration.