The heads of enforcement at both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Friday issued a joint statement promising to combat cryptocurrency fraud.
“When market participants engage in fraud under the guise of offering digital instruments — whether characterized as virtual currencies, coins, tokens, or the like — the SEC and the CFTC will look beyond form, examine the substance of the activity and prosecute violations of the federal securities and commodities laws,” say Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin, co-directors of enforcement, SEC, and James McDonald, CFTC enforcement director, in the joint statement.
“The divisions of enforcement for the SEC and CFTC will continue to address violations and to bring actions to stop and prevent fraud in the offer and sale of digital instruments,” they add.
The pledge to combat cryptocurrency fraud comes alongside a couple of enforcement actions from the CFTC announced on Friday. The U.S. derivatives regulator filed a federal civil enforcement action alleging fraud and misappropriation in connection with trading in bitcoin and litecoin against New York-based CabbageTech, Corp., which operates as Coin Drop Markets (CDM), and the firm’s owner. The allegations have not been proven.
In its complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the CFTC alleges that the firm “engaged in a deceptive and fraudulent virtual currency scheme to induce customers to send money and virtual currencies to CDM, purportedly in exchange for real-time virtual currency trading advice and for virtual currency purchasing and trading on behalf of the customers.”
The CFTC also filed a civil enforcement action against a Colorado man, Dillon Michael Dean, and his U.K.-based company, The Entrepreneurs Headquarters Ltd., alleging that they engaged in “a fraudulent scheme to solicit bitcoin from members of the public, misrepresenting that customers’ funds would be pooled and invested in products including binary options, making Ponzi-style payments to commodity pool participants from other participants’ funds, misappropriating pool participants’ funds, and failing to register with the CFTC,” the CFTC announcement says.
These allegations have not been proven. The CFTC noted that the British Columbia Securities Commission provided assistance with its investigation in this case.
“Increased public interest in bitcoin and other virtual currencies has provided new opportunities for bad actors,” says McDonald in a statement, adding that the CFTC will “take swift action to stop such fraudulent schemes and to hold fraudsters accountable for their misconduct.”