Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers for Cryptocurrency Fraud Investigations and Prosecutions Nationwide
Federal agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) are aggressively targeting individuals and organizations suspected of issuing fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs) and engaging in other forms of cryptocurrency fraud. Fraudulent ICOs, cryptocurrency investment scams, marketing scams, and other unlawful activities are attracting intense scrutiny, and federal investigations are leading to a wide range of charges carrying the potential for substantial fines and long-term imprisonment.
Despite the meteoric rise of new digital currencies, exchanges, and banking platforms, cryptocurrencies are still a relatively new phenomenon. As a result, while efforts are underway to enact laws and regulations specific to the cryptocurrency market, in the United States cryptocurrency fraud is currently prosecuted under laws of general applicability. Due to implications for the financial and securities sectors, cryptocurrencies, exchanges, banking platforms, and other digital currency properties are subject to a bevy of statutory and regulatory sources of authority, and individuals and organizations accused of cryptocurrency fraud can face charges ranging from money laundering and tax evasion to Bank Secrecy Act and Securities Exchange Act violations.
Are You Under Federal Investigation or Facing Charges for Cryptocurrency Fraud?
For individuals and organizations facing federal cryptocurrency fraud investigations, hiring experienced defense counsel during the investigation is critical to mitigating the risk of an indictment. If you have already been charged, you need to speak with a federal defense lawyer immediately. At Oberheiden, P.C., our team of federal defense lawyers has extensive experience in all phases of federal prosecutions, from fending off SEC and DOJ investigations to appealing convictions in federal district court.
While cryptocurrency presents some novel issues, ultimately, the same enduring principles that govern other types of federal criminal cases will dictate the outcomes of cryptocurrency fraud cases as well. In order to protect yourself, you need to execute a proactive defense, and you need to have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the laws and constitutional principles that apply. With our attorneys’ centuries of combined experience in federal criminal cases – including extensive experience prosecuting fraud charges on behalf of the DOJ – we are well-positioned to effectively defend individuals and organizations charged with cryptocurrency fraud in federal jurisdictions across the country.
Federal Statutes with Potential Implications for Cryptocurrency Fraud Cases
Cryptocurrency fraud allegations can trigger charges under a variety of different federal statutes. We represent company owners and executives, coders, investment firms, investment advisors, and other entities and individuals facing all types of charges in connection with alleged cryptocurrency fraud schemes. This includes charges under:
- 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (Computer Fraud and Abuse)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (Mail Fraud)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (Wire Fraud)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1346 (Bank Fraud)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1349 (Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud or Wire Fraud)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (Money Laundering)
- 26 U.S.C. § 7201 (Tax Evasion)
- Bank Secrecy Act
- Commodity Exchange Act
- Securities Act of 1933
- Securities Exchange Act of 1934
Our attorneys are available to represent clients in federal cases involving Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, XRP, EOS, Tether, Monero, and all other cryptocurrencies.
Common Allegations in Federal Cryptocurrency Fraud Investigations
1. Unregistered and Fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings
Initial coin offerings typically involve the issuance of cryptocurrency as a means of raising capital for a new business venture. An ICO is similar in many respects to an initial public offering (IPO) involving company stock; and, as explained by the SEC, “ICOs, based on specific facts, may be securities offerings, and fall under the SEC’s jurisdiction of enforcing federal securities laws.” Selling coins, or tokens, in an unregistered ICO constitutes a form of securities fraud, and the SEC and DOJ have been aggressive in targeting individuals and organizations that have unlawfully promoted and sold tokens to individual investors.
2. Fraudulent Cryptocurrency Investment Scams
While many investigations target the unlawful sale of cryptocurrency, federal authorities are targeting individuals and organizations for other types of cryptocurrency-related fraud scams as well. For example, in March 2019 the DOJ publicized, “one of the first [cases] in which an individual has pleaded guilty to securities fraud involving a cryptocurrency in U.S. federal court.” The defendant, a 30-year-old Texas resident, raised approximately $4.25 million from investors who believed that they were investing in a new cryptocurrency called AriseCoin, when in reality the defendant was simply converting their funds for personal use. Charged with securities fraud, the defendant faced up to 20 years in federal prison.
3. Fraudulent Investment Advice Concerning Cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrency investing can be a dangerous area for investment advisors as well. Similar to all other investments, when advising clients regarding ICOs and purchases of cryptocurrencies, investment advisors must provide suitable investment recommendations that reflect the client’s interests and the advisor’s thorough understanding of the risks involved with investing. Failing to provide suitable investment advice, withholding material information, overconcentrating investors’ portfolios in cryptocurrencies, charging excessive fees, churning investors’ portfolios in order to generate excess commissions, and other forms of investment fraud involving cryptocurrencies can all lead to civil or criminal fraud charges.
Federal Penalties for Cryptocurrency Fraud
Since cryptocurrency fraud investigations can lead to charges under multiple federal statutes, determining the potential penalties in a cryptocurrency fraud case requires identification of the specific statute (or statutes) involved. It is also necessary to determine whether the investigation is civil or criminal in nature, as some statutes include provisions for both civil and criminal penalties. In civil cases, prison time is off of the table; however, fines, restitution, and other financial penalties can easily reach into the millions of dollars. In criminal cases, in addition to substantial fines, defendants can also face prison terms including:
- Bank Secrecy Act Violations – 5 years per count
- Computer Fraud – 10 years per count
- Mail Fraud – 20 years per count
- Money Laundering – 20 years per count
- Securities Fraud – 20 years per count
- Tax Evasion – 5 years per count
- Wire Fraud – 20 years per count
Note that these are the prison sentences per count, and that federal prosecutors will often pursue multiple counts of multiple charges in cryptocurrency fraud investigations. In some cases, the maximum prison sentences can be extended beyond those stated above as well (for example, a repeat computer fraud offender can face a 20-year prison term for a single count).
Strategic Defense for Federal Cryptocurrency Fraud Investigations, Grand Jury Proceedings, and Trials
In our federal defense practice, we take a proactive and strategic approach to protecting our clients against the substantial penalties that can be imposed for all types of cryptocurrency fraud. We work closely with our clients to understand the facts involved, and we utilize our defense attorneys’ centuries of combined experience to effectively communicate with federal prosecutors and work toward a favorable pre-trial resolution. If you contact us while your investigation is pending, we will focus our efforts on resolving the investigation without charges being filed. Depending on the nature and the current status of your cryptocurrency fraud case, our services may include:
1. Prompt Intervention in the Government’s Investigation
If your investigation is still ongoing, we will make contact with the agents and prosecutors handling your case right away. We have extensive experience in DOJ, SEC, and other federal agency investigations, and we can utilize our experience as former federal prosecutors to your advantage. We will determine the scope and nature of the allegations against you, we will ensure that you are not disadvantaged by violations of your constitutional rights, and we will work quickly to build a strategic and custom-tailored defense.
2. Aggressive Pursuit of a Pre-Charge Resolution
We have an extensive track record of helping our clients avoid charges in federal civil and criminal investigations. Once we discern precisely why you are under investigation, we will focus on challenging every element of the government’s case in order to convince the prosecutors involved that any charges would be unlikely to lead to conviction at trial.
3. Grand Jury Subpoena Defense
Federal grand jury proceedings are unique from almost every other aspect of civil and criminal defense. If you receive (or you have already received) a federal grand jury subpoena, we will guide you through the process of responding and preparing your testimony. We will also assess all potential grounds for challenging the subpoena and protecting you against an indictment.
4. Pre-Trial Practice and Plea Negotiations
If an indictment is unavoidable, we will utilize the pre-trial stage of your case to its fullest potential. While we challenge the admissibility and sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence in court, we will concurrently negotiate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to secure a favorable result before trial.
5. Trial Representation
Our attorneys have extensive experience in civil and criminal federal trials. If we believe it is in your interests to present a defense in court, we will meticulously prepare a comprehensive trial defense and fight for your freedom at trial.
Speak with a Federal Defense Lawyer at Oberheiden, P.C.
If you are under investigation or facing charges in the U.S. for cryptocurrency fraud, we urge you to contact us promptly to discuss your case. To speak with one of our federal defense lawyers as soon as possible, call 888-519-4897 or request a free consultation online now.