Today, December 4, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission froze $15 million in assets associated with a token offering in which investors say they were given a false promise of 13-fold profit in less than a month.
Charges were filed in a Brooklyn, NY, federal court by the SEC against Dominic Lacroix, a repeat offender of Quebec securities laws, and his partner Sabrina Paradis-Royer for an alleged a scheme to fleece investors. Lacroix and Royer purportedly sold what the SEC has deemed to be securities in the form of PlexCoin to investors in the US and abroad with claims that backers would see a 1,354 percent profit yield in less than 29 days.
The SEC reported it was able to obtain an emergency court order freezing the assets of Lacroix, Paradis-Royer, and PlexCorps.
These charges are the first such to be issued by the SEC's recently launched Cyber Unit, which was created in September to address cybersecurity threats from foreign and domestic malicious actors, misconduct with token offerings, and the spread of false information.
Robert Cohen, Chief of the Cyber Unit, expressed the nature of the unit's first case:
"This first Cyber Unit case hits all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam and is exactly the kind of misconduct the unit will be pursuing. We acted quickly to protect retail investors from this initial coin offering's false promises."
As per the SEC complaint, Lacroix, Paradis-Royer, and PlexCorps have been charged with violation of anti-fraud provisions. In addition, both Lacroix and PlexCorps have been charged with violating the US federal securities laws' registration provision. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus interest, and penalties. The SEC would also have Lacroix and Paradis-Royer barred from offering digital securities, and have Lacroix barred from holding officer-and-director positions.
Lacroix had previously been held in contempt of the Quebec Supreme Court following discovery that, according to the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), he had ignored that court's previous orders and continued to solicit investors to engage in PlexCoin-related crowdfunding. The AMF has recommended that Lacroix be sentenced to six months in prison.
The PlexCoin website remains up and running, and provides a synopsis of the company's supposed business plan. The site advertises a "PlexCard" and smartphone application that hosts a wallet, but does not provide a whitepaper by which to gauge the validity of the project's framework and protocols, and makes no mention of the legal hot water Lacroix and partners have landed in.