A 50-year-old Las Vegas resident was charged with operating a cryptocurrency scam that netted him $45 million and 39 brand-new Teslas, among other things.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Neil Suresh Chandran on charges that he had scammed more than 10,000 people out of their money since June 2018. To persuade the victims to send him their money, Chandran allegedly told them that one of his five cryptocurrency and virtual reality businesses “was about to be purchased by a consortium of wealthy buyers and thereby yield his investors extremely high returns.”
In an alleged email from Chandran, he reportedly claimed that an investment of $88,000 would yield a $2 trillion return. Chandran is accused of spending a large amount of money, which is included in the indictment.
The alleged fraud appears to have involved claims about Elon Musk, who is referred to in the indictment as “Billionaire 2” and the “founder and CEO of an electric car company,” as well as Jeff Bezos, the executive chairman and founder of Amazon, who is referred to in the document as “Billionaire 1” and the “founder and executive chairman of a large online retailing company.”
The indictment makes it apparent that Billionaires 1 and 2 “had no involvement” in the scam.
Apprehended in Los Angeles, Chandran is pressured to forfeit the Teslas, five residences in California and Nevada, a Ferrari, a Rolls-Royce, and other expensive goods, including a diamond-encrusted gold Swiss watch, as stolen funds.
The government is looking to forfeit nearly $36 million in 25 accounts across 12 different banks, two insurance companies, and a stock brokerage.
According to Silicon Valley, Chandran’s collection of 39 Teslas included 16 Model Y crossovers, 15 Model 3 sedans, four Model S sedans, and three Model X SUVs. He’s also accused of acquiring 19 vehicles, two pick-up trucks, three RVs, and a boat.
Although money laundering is alleged in the indictment, the method it may have happened is not made apparent. The charge said Chandran and others received the money and products from investor funds that were improperly used for other business endeavors.
Chandran is accused of using criminally derived property and three-wire fraud offenses. For each count of fraud and each count of illicit transactions, he may spend up to 20 years in prison.
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