The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled charges it filed in 2018 against an alleged crypto pyramid scheme involving four individuals.
Terms of settlement
According to an official statement on Aug. 22, the regulator permanently banned the defendants from multi-level marketing and misrepresenting investment opportunities and charged a total of over $500,000 as part of the settlement.
In March 2018, the FTC first obtained a court order against Thomas Dluca, Eric Pinkston, Louis Gatto and Scott Chandler that stopped their misleading marketing practices and froze their assets. At the time, the FTC stipulated that the individuals violated the FTC Act by “advertising, marketing, and promotion of purported money-making schemes.”
Referral pyramid scheme
Specifically, the action alleged that the defendants misled investors by promising high returns from paying crypto such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Litecoin (LTC) to sign up for schemes marketed under the names Bitcoin Funding Team and My7Network. The programs represented chain referral schemes, requiring members to constantly recruit new participants to generate revenue, the FTC noted.
The defendants reportedly claimed that Bitcoin Funding Team could turn a $100 payment into $80,000 in monthly income. Eventually, most participants failed to reimburse their initial investments, the FTC stated.
As part of the proposed settlement, Dluca will pay $453,932, and Chandler will pay $31,000. Pinkston also agreed to a $461,035 judgment, which will be suspended upon payment of $29,491, due to his inability to pay the full amount. If he is later found to have misrepresented his finances, he will be required to pay the full amount. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Earlier this year, the FTC sued startup iBackPack for misusing raised funds of the amount of $800,000 during four crowdfunding campaigns from consumers.