On September 26, the Southern District of New York court commended the founder of the AirBit Club cryptocurrency pyramid. Pablo Renato Rodriguez was sentenced to 12 years in prison and confiscation of his assets obtained by criminal means, which account to about $100 million.
What is an AirBit Club
Pablo Renato Rodriguez, along with accomplice Gutemberg Dos Santos and promoters Scott Hughes, Cecilia Millan, and Karina Chairez, founded the AirBit Club in 2015. In a press release from the US Department of Justice, it is stated that they promoted AirBit Club as a “multilevel marketing club in the cryptocurrency industry". In fact, it was an international financial pyramid.
What was wrong with AirBit Club
Over several years, AirBit Club founders have attracted funds from investors worldwide. They promised them profits from investments in cryptocurrencies through the club. Scammers claimed that the funds of investors who bought membership were directed to mining and trading cryptocurrencies.
After joining the club, victims were given access to a special portal where they could see their "profits". However, these were just numbers on the screen. According to the US Department of Justice, back in 2016, when trying to withdraw money, investors faced long answers, excuses from promoters, and commissions of more than 50% of the requested amount.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the founders of the AirBit Club had misappropriated investors’ funds for their own needs: jewellery, real estate, cryptocurrencies, etc.
Court verdict on Pablo Renato Rodriguez
According to the press release, there are three main points in the sentence:
🧑⚖️ Rodriguez is sentenced to 12 years in prison;
💵 he will have to pay a $65 million fine;
🏠 authorities will confiscate 3,800 bitcoins, $1.9 million in cash, Rodriguez's residence in California, and jewellery purchased with stolen funds.
The four remaining accomplices pleaded guilty. However, final verdicts in their cases will come at next meetings in October.
AirBit Club founders’ criminal background
The press release also mentioned that prior to founding AirBit Club, Rodriguez and Dos Santos had faced lawsuits by the US Securities Commission (SEC) related to their earlier pyramid scheme, Vizinova, resulting in a $1.7 million fine.
These cases are a good reminder that you should be especially careful when trusting funds to other people and organisations that promise simple and large incomes. Be careful and read our guide on how to avoid scams.
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