Justice Department extradites alleged BTC mining Ponzi operator from Panama

AirBit Club’s leadership has been gathered in New York City and will face charges for stealing “membership dues” to finance massive marketing events and lavish personal lifestyles.

Per a Monday announcement, the United States Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York have extradited from Panama a leader of alleged Ponzi scheme AirBit Club. 

Gutemberg Dos Santos is one of six operators of AirBit Club indicted, and the last to come into the U.S. to face trial before the SDNY. Dos Santos is a dual citizen of Brazil and the United States. Authorities initially apprehended five of the six back in August, with a sixth avoiding authorities until October. 

The DoJ alleges that AirBit Club sold “memberships” that promised guaranteed returns. The six operators marketed their returns as being the product of the club’s mining operations and trading strategies. Per the DoJ, those operations didn’t exist. Instead, membership dues went to funding further marketing all around the world, including massive events to recruit new members and jet-set lifestyles for themselves.

Some of these events are viewable on AirBit Club’s still-active website, with the most recent taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last year.

One of the six indicted was Scott Hughes, a California attorney who, the DoJ alleges, aided AirBit Club’s leadership “by, among other things, helping to remove negative information about AirBit Club and Vizinova from the internet” — possibly by threatening libel suits to shut down dissent. 

Hughes also stands accused of helping the operation launder income via various client accounts. 

One of the most famous Ponzi schemes in crypto is PlusToken, which recently saw over $4 billion worth of crypto assets confiscated by the Chinese government. 

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