The federal court of Florida's southern district has upheld a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) request for a temporary restraining order against four individuals allegedly running cryptocurrency schemes.
Thomas Dluca, Louis Gatto, Eric Pinkston, and Scott Chandler are associated in various capacities with a chain referral scheme known as "Bitcoin Funding Team."
The defendants are charged with using various combinations of social media platforms and conference calls to mislead investors with promises of significant returns for relatively small cryptocurrency payments, namely in bitcoin or Litecoin.
According to an FTC press release today, claims made by the defendants included stating that Bitcoin Funding Team could turn the equivalent of "just over $100 into $80,000 in monthly income."
Dluca, Gatto, and Pinkston are also associated with a scheme called My7Network, while Chandler is additionally accused of promoting a deceptive cryptocurrency scheme called Jetcoin.
The FTC alleges that the schemes were structured to ensure that the majority of participant investors would fail to recoup the investments they initially made. "This case shows that scammers always find new ways to market old schemes, which is why the FTC will remain vigilant regardless of the platform – or currency used," said the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection acting director, Tom Pahl. "The schemes the defendants promoted were designed to enrich those at the top at the expense of everyone else."
According to official court documentation the defendants have "individually or in concert" been promoting their schemes at least since February 2017. A trial is currently pending.
This action is the latest, but not the first, by a US district court against cryptocurrency schemes.