According to a press release sent out by the United States Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Texas, Jared Rice, Sr., CEO of the Dallas-based AriseBank, was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday, November 28, for allegedly defrauding hundreds of investors out of more than $4 million in a cryptocurrency scheme.
Rice is being indicted on three counts each of securities fraud and wire fraud. The indictment, which was also released on Wednesday, states that Rice touted AriseBank as the "first decentralized banking platform offering numerous services to consumers for digital and fiat currency." He told investors the bank "could offer consumers FDIC-insured accounts and traditional banking services, including Visa-brand credit and debit cards, in addition to cryptocurrency services." None of which were true.
To invest in the AriseCoin ICO, an individual only needed to register on the AriseBank website by providing an email address. There were no other investor requirements or restrictions. Investors could purchase AriseCoin using digital currencies, including bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and fiat currency. Through his scheme, Rice raised in crypto and fiat currency the equivalent of approximately $4,250,000 from hundreds of investors.
The indictment notes that Rice knowingly had no partnership or contract with Visa, could not offer customers FDIC-insured accounts, had not raised $300 million for the AriseCoin ICO as was represented in December 2017, and had not been authorized by the Texas Department of Banking to conduct banking in the state of Texas.
The Wild, Wild West
A January 18, 2018 press release from AriseBank claimed that the AriseCoin ICO had raised $600,000,000 in just a few weeks and that it was "quickly approaching being the first $1 billion ICO." It hadn't, and it wasn't, and the release failed to mention that on January 5, the Texas Department of Banking had issued a cease and desist order on AriseBank for "violat[ing] Texas Finance Code Chapter 31 by using the term 'bank' in its name and marketing materials to imply that it is in the business of banking in this state."
Later in January, AriseBank was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with the unregistered offers and sales of securities, fraud in the offer or sale of securities, fraud in connection with the purchase and sale of securities, and aiding and abetting violations of the Securities Exchange Act.