Cryptocurrency personality Thomas John Sferaga has pleaded guilty to wire fraud

Cryptocurrency personality Thomas John Sfraga has pleaded guilty to wire fraud after allegedly tricking more than a dozen victims into investing in non-existent projects, including fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes.

“Safraga convinced the victim to invest in a fictitious cryptocurrency ‘virtual wallet,’” the US Department of Justice announced in a statement on May 17. The agency also explained that Sfraga has experience in podcasting and the cryptocurrency industry, including working as a director of crypto events in New York.

The Ministry of Justice added: “The victims were promised returns on their investments of up to 60% in three months.” However, he appears to have been running a Ponzi scheme – where returns paid to previous investors come not from legitimate profits but from investments by new participants.

The statement explained: “But in reality, Safraga transferred the money for his own benefit, to pay expenses, and to pay compensation to previous victims and his business partners.” Many of these victims were allegedly friends and neighbors of Safragha, who betrayed their trust “to swindle more than $1.3 million out of their hard-earned savings.”

Such gains are not unusual in the cryptocurrency market: Bitcoin (BTC) rose 65% over three months this year from January 24 to April 24, according to CoinMarketCap data. At press time, Bitcoin is trading at $66,860.

Bitcoin has risen 8.92% over the past 30 days, trading at $66,860. Source: CoinMarketCap

Many altcoins saw much greater returns over the same period – PEPE (PEPE) and dogwifhat (WIF) rose 722% and 656% respectively during those same three months.

Related: Former Cred executives face fraud and money laundering charges

This comes after a recent crackdown on cryptocurrency fraud.

On May 15, Cointelegraph reported that the Department of Justice charged brothers Anton Pepper-Bueno and James Pepper-Bueno with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

It claimed they made $25 million in cryptocurrencies in about 12 seconds using a scheme that undermined the integrity of the blockchain.

Just one month ago, on April 4, the former head of legal and compliance for the multi-billion dollar OneCoin fraud scheme was sentenced to four years in prison after admitting that she helped launder millions of dollars.

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