Florida Crypto Scam Trader of EmpiresX Pleads Guilty of Defrauding Investors of $100m
A Florida man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud with a crypto Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of about USD 100m.
The man, identified as the 28-year-old Joshua David Nicholas, was working as “Head Trader” at the purported crypto platform EmpiresX, which he and others had “fraudulently promoted,” according to a press release from the US Department of Justice (DOJ)
The fraudulent promotion included, among other things, promises of guaranteed returns with the help of what they called a proprietary trading bot.
“Nicholas and his co-conspirators claimed that EmpiresX operated a trading bot that used artificial and human intelligence to maximize profitability for investors. Instead, EmpiresX operated a Ponzi scheme by paying earlier investors with money obtained from later EmpiresX investors,” the press release said.
It added that EmpiresX, which was also known as Empires Consulting Corp., never registered its investment program as an offering and sale of securities with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as required by law.
The press release further said that victims of the EmpiresX fraud can visit a dedicated website to identify themselves and get more information about their rights as victims.
After committing guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, the former Head Trader now faces a maximum of five years in prison.
The case has been investigated by the FBI Miami Field Office and Homeland Security Investigations’ Miami Field Office. A date for the sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
Criminal charges were originally brought against Nicholas by the DOJ in July, along with co-conspirators Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves, both of whom are Brazilian nationals. No legal representatives are listed in court records for Pires and Goncalves.