Bryan Lee, an executive associated with crypto exchange CoinDeal, has been charged in connection with a cryptocurrency investment fraud scheme that defrauded more than 10,000 victims and resulted in losses exceeding $45 million.
According to a Friday statement by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), Lee is accused of collaborating with Neil Chandran and others to deceive investors in companies controlled by Chandran, collectively known as “ViRSE.”
These companies allegedly claimed to be developing virtual-world technologies and their cryptocurrency for use in a metaverse. To entice potential investors, the fraudulent operation promised substantial returns upon the acquisition of these companies by wealthy individuals.
The firms even propagated false assertions that two billionaires, one affiliated with a well-known online retail company and the other with an electric car company, were supporting the ventures in a bid to substantiate their claims. However, the DOJ alleged that these claims were entirely fabricated, designed solely to deceive unsuspecting individuals.
Lee,57, as the nominee owner and director of ViMarket, allegedly followed Chandran’s instructions in handling investor funds deposited into ViMarket’s bank accounts. CoinDeal was the primary vehicle through which the fraudulent investment opportunity was marketed to potential victims. Lee and Chandran then proceeded to misappropriate millions of dollars by purchasing luxury cars and real estate.
According to the DOJ, Lee faces multiple charges, including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and engaging in monetary transactions involving unlawfully obtained assets. If convicted, he could face over 60 years in prison.
Notably, Chandran was arrested in June 2022 and charged accordingly. Michael Glaspie, another individual involved with the scheme, pleaded guilty to wire fraud for his role in marketing the investment under the name “CoinDeal” and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16.
Meanwhile, while Lee made his initial appearance in federal court on Friday, May 19, Chandran is scheduled for a status conference on June 14.
That said, as the legal process unfolds, it is anticipated that further revelations regarding the extent of the alleged fraudulent activities will come to light, with the DOJ calling on victims to present themselves.