The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken legal action against 11 individuals involved in the creation and promotion of Forsage, a fraudulent cryptocurrency pyramid and Ponzi scheme. This scheme raised over $300 million from millions of retail investors worldwide, including those in the United States.
The charges are filed against the four founders of Forsage, who were last known to be living in Russia, the Republic of Georgia, and Indonesia. Additionally, three U.S.-based promoters were charged for endorsing Forsage on its website and social media platforms, along with several members of the “Crypto Crusaders,” a major promotional group for the scheme in the United States.
Forsage operated a website that allowed investors to engage in transactions through smart contracts on Ethereum, Tron, and Binance blockchains. However, it allegedly operated as a pyramid scheme for more than two years, where profits were generated by recruiting new participants. It also used funds from new investors to pay earlier investors, following the typical structure of a Ponzi scheme.
Despite receiving cease-and-desist orders from authorities in the Philippines and Montana, the defendants continued to promote the scheme and deny allegations through YouTube videos and other means.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in a U.S. District Court in Illinois, charges the individuals with violating federal securities laws related to registration and anti-fraud provisions. The SEC seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties.
Two of the defendants, Ellis and Theissen, have settled the charges without admitting or denying them. They agreed to a permanent injunction against future violations and will pay civil penalties, pending court approval.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit and received assistance from the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines and the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.
In the realm of cryptocurrency and Web 3.0, it has been observed that users always hear about these scams and exploit news on a daily basis. Recently, in a report by Todayq News on September 1, 2023, cryptocurrency attackers stole $45 million in digital assets, contributing to a yearly total loss of nearly $1 billion, according to CertiK. In that month, $26 million disappeared in exit scams, $6.4 million in flash loan attacks, and $13.5 million in exploits.