Instagram Influencer Charged for Allegedly Stealing Millions of Dollars in Bitcoin From Followers
A popular Instagram personality has been accused in the US of stealing millions of dollars in bitcoins from her followers. He allegedly convinced the victims to sell him their coins in attractive but overpriced denominations, but never sent them money for the coins he had sent them.
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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday that a popular Instagram personality known as Jay Mazini has been charged with wire fraud in connection with bitcoin scams. The Department of Justice wrote:
Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Brooklyn against Jegara Igbara, also known as Jay Masini, for wire fraud. This is a scheme whereby the defendant allegedly induced his victims to send him bitcoins by falsely claiming that he was transferring money in exchange for bitcoins.
The DOJ said Igbara never actually sent the money and stole at least $2.5 million in bitcoins from the victims.
Acting U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko described that Igbara used his immense popularity on social media to get his followers to sell him bitcoins….. to get him to sell bitcoins at attractive but inflated values. IRS-CI Senior Special Agent Jonathan Larsen also noted that this suspect would have used his online popularity to defraud people who were trying to trade bitcoins for money above their market value.
According to the complaint, until March this year, Igbara maintained a popular Instagram account with nearly a million followers under the name Jay Masini, on which he posted videos showing him handing out large amounts of cash to individuals as gifts. The DOJ stated:
Starting around January 2021, Igbara began posting videos on his Instagram account offering to buy bitcoins from other Instagram users at prices 3.5% to 5% above market value.
Igbara said he was willing to pay more than the market price because traditional bitcoin exchanges limit the amount of bitcoins he can buy, the DOJ added.
When the victims agreed to the sale, Igbara sent them documents with images of purported bank transfer confirmation pages that falsely confirmed that Igbara had sent a bank transfer for the promised amounts, according to the details of the complaint. The victims then transferred their coins to Igbara, but the promised payments never arrived.
FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said there was nothing philanthropic about the bitcoin transactions Igbara was involved in with his victims, and noted that a quick internet search would show a very different picture of the multi-millionaire fraudster.
The investigation is ongoing and authorities are urging anyone who believes they have been a victim of this scam to file a complaint with the FBI. If convicted, Igbara risks up to 20 years in prison.
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