A Swedish man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in the U.S. for an investment fraud scheme involving cryptocurrency, including bitcoin. He defrauded thousands of victims of more than $16 million.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday that a “cryptocurrency fraudster” has been sentenced to 15 years in prison “for securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges that defrauded thousands of victims of more than $16 million.”
Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson, a 47-year-old Swedish man, was arrested in Thailand in June 2019. He pleaded guilty on March 4.
According to court documents, Karlsson ran an investment fraud scheme from 2011 until his arrest. He sold shares in the scheme called “Eastern Metal Securities” using cryptocurrency such as bitcoin and other online payment platforms. He promised victims “astronomical returns” tied to the price of gold.
However, Karlsson transferred the victims’ funds to his personal bank accounts and used the money to buy expensive homes, a racehorse and a resort in Thailand, the DOJ detailed, elaborating:
Karlsson’s fraud targeted financially insecure investors, causing severe financial hardship for many of them.
In order to prolong his fraudulent investment scheme, Karlsson deployed several strategies, including rebranding and falsely claiming to be working with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Justice Department stated:
As part of the sentence, Karlsson was also ordered to forfeit a Thai resort and various other properties and accounts, and issued a money judgment in the amount of $16,263,820.
The DOJ added that the U.S. “is seeking restitution on behalf of Karlsson’s victims,” noting that “A restitution order is expected to be entered by the court within 90 days.”
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