Justice Department extradites alleged BTC mining Ponzi operator from Panama

Per a Monday announcement, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York have extradited a leader of alleged ponzi scheme AirBit Club from Panama. 

Gutemberg Dos Santos is one of six operators of AirBit Club indicted, and the last to come into the U.S. to face trial before the SDNY. Dos Santos is a dual citizen of Brazil and the U.S. Authorities initially apprehended five of the six back in August, with a sixth avoiding authorities until October. 

The DoJ alleges that AirBit Club sold “memberships” that promised guaranteed returns. The six operators marketed their returns as being the product of the club’s mining operations and trading strategies. Per the DoJ, those operations didn’t exist. Instead, membership dues went to funding further marketing all around the world, including massive events to recruit new members and jet-set lifestyles for themselves.

Some of these events are viewable on AirBit Club’s still-active website, with the most recent taking place in São Paulo, Brazil, last year. 

One of the six indicted was Scott Hughes, a California attorney who, the DoJ alleges, aided AirBit Club’s leadership “by, among other things, helping to remove negative information about AirBit Club and Vizinova from the internet.” Possibly by threatening libel suits to shut down dissent. 

Hughes also stands accused of helping the operation to launder income via various client accounts. 

One of the most famous ponzi schemes in crypto is PlusToken, which recently saw over $4 billion worth of crypto assets confiscated by the Chinese government.