The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that the principal of crypto asset escrow company Volantis Market Making has pled guilty to commodities fraud worth more than $3.25 million on October 1.
Volantis executive, 49-year-old Jon Barry Thompson, made false representations to a company from which he solicited $3.25 million to make purportedly “no risk” Bitcoin (BTC) purchases through a third firm during June and July of 2018.
Despite Thompson asserting he would not part with the money until after the third firm had delivered the BTC, Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Audrey Strauss, found that:
“Thompson sent the money to a third party without first receiving the Bitcoin, and the money was never recovered.”
The DoJ noted that Thompson falsely claimed that the transaction would be settled through an “atomic swap process,” and lied to the company for several days as to the status of their funds and crypto — neither of which were returned.
Thompson pled guilty to one count of commodities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Thompson will face sentencing on January 7, 2021.
Thomspon was indicted in September 2019 on four counts of fraud relating to $7 million that Volantis allegedly swindled from two different customers — including the charge over which he has just pled guilty. In the indictment, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, William Sweeney Jr, emphasized that Thompson intentionally used crypto-native jargon to confuse and consequently exploit his victim:
“Using phrases and terminology that the victim companies didn’t understand, he allegedly preyed on their ignorance of the emerging cryptocurrency.”
U.S. authorities have recently expanded international policing efforts targeting crypto fraud, taking action against separate scams located in Russia and Malaysia last month.