A Latvian citizen has been extradited to the United States where he is accused of fraud by several companies offering fake crypto investment opportunities. Ivars Auzins will appear in federal court in Brooklyn on multiple counts of wire and securities fraud.
Latvian Authorities Transfer Alleged Crypto Fraudster to US Custody
Ivars Auzins, a citizen of the small Baltic nation of Latvia, was extradited to the United States on Friday. The Latvian was handed over to the US court on a six-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracies to commit wire and securities fraud in connection with the operation of eight businesses purporting to offer, invest in , or mine digital assets.
Auzins will be arraigned on the indictment before the Honorable Roanne L. Mann in federal court in Brooklyn on Saturday, the US Department of Justice said in a press release. The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI:
Auzins perpetrated a brutal scheme in which he fleeced investors who turned over millions of dollars in fraudulent cryptocurrencies. This Office will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who lie and steal from investors, including those like the defendant who operate from abroad.
According to the indictment, the Latvian allegedly ran several companies, the “Auzins Entities,” that advertised through email campaigns, social media and websites dedicated to cryptocurrencies. They suggested valuable investment opportunities and solicited investments before suddenly disappearing.
Two of these, Denaro and Bitroad, raised funds through initial coin offerings (ICOs). Impressio Estate, Broi Investments (Bankroi), Changepro, Gemneon Investments and Lycovest presented themselves as crypto investment platforms offering different investment plans and profit rates. Innovamine has offered investments in the mining of a number of coins, including bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH).
Auzins and his co-conspirators allegedly enticed investors to put money into their projects through a series of material misrepresentations and omissions about the products and services offered, the profits investors would earn by investing in the Auzins entities, and the individuals who operated it.
Between approximately November 2017 and July 2019, individuals in the United States and other jurisdictions transferred at least $7 million in digital assets to Auzins’ companies. Shortly after receiving these investments, these entities disappeared without providing their promised services, the DOJ pointed out.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with Latvian law enforcement agencies to secure the arrest and extradition of Ivars Auzins to the United States, and the US Marshals Service carried out the extradition, the announcement details. The New York Regional Office of the US Securities and Exchange Commission assisted in the investigation.
Auzins’ move to the US comes after the recent extraditions of two Russian citizens accused by US authorities of crypto-related crime. Last week, the Netherlands extradited 29-year-old Denis Dubnikov, who is accused of laundering proceeds from ransomware attacks on individuals and organizations in the United States, including hospitals and healthcare providers. Earlier this month, Greece extradited 42-year-old Alexander Vinnik, alleged operator of BTC-e, who allegedly laundered at least $4 billion through the now-defunct digital asset exchange.
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