The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) brought Jebara Igbara, aka Jay Mazini, to court on charges of wire fraud and money laundering related to digital assets in 2021 and obtained a guilty plea from the defendant.
According to the DOJ’s public disclosure, Igbara used his popularity on Instagram to lure unsuspecting victims. He caught their attention by uploading videos depicting a lavish lifestyle and offering cash gifts to random people.
In reality, Igbara operated multiple scams, including an advance payment scam in which he offered to buy digital assets from individuals at a price higher than the market price, but ended up sending fake verification pictures via wire transfer, federal authorities said. The Muslim-American community in New York was Igbara’s primary target as he ran other fraudulent operations, including a Ponzi scheme.
The DOJ stated that its victims lost over $8 million as a direct result of its action and that they were “promised something too good to be true.”
“Those in the Ponzi scheme were assured of a high rate of return in a short period of time, while victims of the bitcoin prepayment scheme were guaranteed their bitcoin would be in excess of the current market value,” a special representative from the Internal Revenue Service said of the case.
Igbara pleaded guilty to all charges and faces 20 years in federal prison after conviction.
“By today’s pleading, the defendant has admitted that he used his popularity on Instagram to prey on innocent investors and steal at least $8 million of their hard-earned money,” the disclosure reads. “Together with our agency partners, this office is committed to bringing fraudsters to justice.”
The investigation involved the offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Field Office (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI).
The DOJ is leaving no stone unturned in the fight against virtual asset fraud
The Justice Department cracks down on bad actors in the digital currency ecosystem, as evidenced by the series of criminal cases it has launched against would-be offenders.
To keep up the increased pace, the DOJ announced the creation of the Digital Asset Coordinator (DAC) Network — a dedicated arm to oversee the sector. The department says the decision to launch the network was also a direct result of President Joe Biden’s March 9 executive order.
“By creating the DAC network, the Department of Crime and the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team will continue to ensure that the Department and its prosecutors are best positioned to combat the ever-evolving criminal use of digital asset technology,” said the Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Hoflicher Jr.
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