‘Bitcoin Pope’ faces up to 10 years in jail for running two crypto scams

The alleged crypto scam websites are still intact.

A securities regulator in the United States, the Texas State Securities Board (TSSB), has detected another batch of alleged cryptocurrency scams.

On Sept. 3, Texas Securities Commissioner Travis J. Iles entered an Emergency Cease and Desist Order against two alleged crypto scam schemes known as Forex Birds and PEK Universe.

The published order names Kumar Babu Bondesi and Darwin Eric Balusek as the alleged operators of the schemes. According to the TSSB, Balusek is also known under the nickname “Bitcoin Pope.”

Operating abroad, the respondents are accused of fraudulent securities offerings tied to foreign exchange (forex) and cryptocurrencies, the authority said. According to the TSSB, Forex Birds was allegedly promising investors earnings up to 11%, with deposits up to $1 million. Forex Birds is also accused of misleading investors by claiming to be registered with a number of authorities in Europe and Australia.

Pek Universe, the alleged promoter of cryptocurrency programs, was promising to earn daily profits for investors — up to nearly 2% per day for 30 days. Both Forex Birds and Pek Universe were not registered to deal in securities in Texas, the regulator said.

According to the official order, the respondents are facing a $10,000 fine or two to 10 years in prison or both. The respondents must request a hearing with the regulator before Sept. 31. As of press time, both Forex Birds and Pek Universe websites are still intact.

The Texas State Securities Board is one of the most active regulators in the U.S. in terms of the crypto industry. The authority is known as the first state securities regulator in the U.S. to enter an enforcement action against a crypto-related firm. In July 2020, the TSSB shut down Mirror Trading International, a multi-level crypto scam scheme operating from South Africa.

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