German Crypto Entrepreneur Charged with $150 Million Fraud Scheme Targeting Investors

US Authorities Arrest and Charge USI Tech CEO Horst Jicha with Securities Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering

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Federal prosecutors have filed charges against German businessman Horst Jicha, accusing him of orchestrating a cryptocurrency fraud scheme that defrauded investors of over $150 million. Jicha served as the CEO of USI Tech, the company at the center of the alleged fraud.

The charges, including securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, were unsealed after Jicha’s arrest upon entering the U.S. for the first time in more than five years on December 23. Jicha arrived in Miami for vacation and was arraigned in a Brooklyn federal court on Friday.

According to prosecutors, Jicha and two unnamed co-conspirators, both USI Tech executives, promoted the company as a crypto mining and trading platform, falsely claiming it was “accessible to the average retail investor.” Instead, they allegedly engaged in a multilevel marketing scheme, deceiving and defrauding investors.

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The indictment states that USI Tech, through its website, social media posts, and in-person events, made false claims that investors could earn up to 140% returns on crypto investments made through its platform. The aggressive promotion of USI Tech began around the spring of 2017, with live events, including one in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where a co-conspirator allegedly claimed the company’s legality had been approved by “the very top SEC attorney.”

As regulators started scrutinizing USI Tech in 2018, prosecutors assert that Jicha terminated the company’s U.S. operations, preventing investors from withdrawing their funds. Subsequently, approximately $150 million of the investors’ money was allegedly transferred to accounts controlled by Jicha.

Jicha’s attorneys, Marissel Descalzo and David Tarras, issued a statement expressing their commitment to defending the allegations against their client and bringing forth the facts of his involvement with USI Tech. The legal proceedings will determine the outcome of the charges, and authorities aim to hold those involved accountable for the alleged fraudulent activities.