U.S. feds bust Instagram star for promoting Bitcoin scams
New York cops bust one 'Jay Manzini' yesterday on charges of wire fraud related to Bitcoin. Here’s why.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn bust one ‘Jay Manzini’ yesterday on charges of perpetuating a wire fraud using Bitcoin, city outlet Daily News said this morning.
Buying Bitcoin over Instagram
Identified as Jebara Igbara, the man hunted for potential victims on social app Instagram and marketed a fiat-to-BTC scheme to his millions of followers. Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has grown over tenfold in the past year, trading from under $5,000 in May to over $60,000 last month.
Prosecutors said that the man built credibility on Instagram via promoting business ventures and doling out large amounts of money to random people in New York.
The fraud was as follows: Igbara offered a higher-than-market rate to purchase Bitcoin and lure unsuspecting victims. In January earlier this year, when the asset traded at a $47,000 price level, Igbara offered over $52,000 per Bitcoin to his followers.
But that is where the deal went wrong. Igbara did take the Bitcoin but never sent the full payment. He faked wire transfers while pocketing the illicit-gained Bitcoin.
“Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values. A behind-the-scenes look, however, revealed things aren’t always as they seem,” stated FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney.
“There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims. A quick search of the Interwebs today will reveal an entirely different image of this multimillion-dollar scammer.”
One such case in January saw Igbara promise to pay over $2.5 million for 50 BTC—a high premium above the market value of the stack at the time. However, he ended up paying only $500,000 to the seller.
As per a criminal complaint, Igbara claimed to have a net worth of over $33 million. But even with a supposed bank account that high, he ended up scamming at least three sellers in a similar way.
Igbara’s social profiles seem to have been taken down at press time. Not that buying Bitcoin over Instagram is a good strategy anyway.