A gavel rests on its sounding block with a several law books and a justice scale out of fucus in the background. A cool blue cast dominates the scene. (A gavel rests on its sounding block with a several law books and a justice scale out of fucus in t

A senior promoter of a global crypto Ponzi scheme has pled guilty to conspiracy in a U.S. court.

According to court filings, Juan Tacuri was a top promoter at Forcount, a company that purportedly engaged in crypto mining and trading, and promised investors that profits from those activities would generate guaranteed returns.

“In reality, Forcount was not engaging in cryptocurrency trading or mining, and the founder and promoters of the scheme were using victim funds to pay other victims, to further promote the schemes, and to enrich themselves,” U.S. authorities alleged.

The scheme was heavily promoted to retail investors, promising the prospect of financial freedom, authorities said. And, while investors saw purported profits appear in their online accounts, they were generally unable to withdraw these assets, and most investors ended up losing all of their money.

As complaints accumulated from investors about their inability to withdraw funds, Forcount also began selling a proprietary crypto token, ostensibly as a way of “injecting liquidity into the scheme.”

These tokens, known as Mindexcoin, proved to be worthless, and “resulted in further financial loss to victims,” authorities said.

Tacuri, who was allegedly one of the scheme’s top promoters, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of the plea, he agreed to forfeit nearly US$4 million and certain real estate.

He is scheduled to be sentenced by a U.S. district court judge on Sept. 24.

“With this guilty plea, Juan Tacuri is being held to account for taking advantage of retail investors and selling them a fabricated investment opportunity. Tacuri brought in millions of dollars in victim funds — funds the victims could not afford to lose — and spent it lavishly on luxury goods and real estate,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a release.