A U.S. federal court has ordered the operator of a crypto trading fraud to pay US$571 million in penalties and restitution.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that Benjamin Reynolds has been ordered to pay US$143 million in restitution and a civil penalty of US$429 million in a default judgement from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The ruling stems from an enforcement action brought by the CFTC in 2019.

The court’s order found that Reynolds, who claimed to be from Manchester, fraudulently solicited over 22,190 Bitcoin (worth approximately US$143 million at the time) from more than 1,000 people around the world (including 169 U.S. citizens) with claims that his company, Control-Finance Ltd., would generate guaranteed trading profits. He also promised to pay bonuses to clients who referred people to the scheme.

“In fact, Reynolds made no trades on customers’ behalf, earned no trading profits for them, and paid them no referral rewards or bonuses,” the CFTC said in a release.

Instead, Reynolds kept his victims’ crypto assets.

“Customers lost most or all of their [Bitcoin] deposits as a result of the scheme,” the CFTC noted.

According to the court’s order, Reynolds never defended the CFTC’s complaint against him. As a result, the court entered its final judgment by default.