Texas Continues to Crack Down on Alleged Cryptocurrency Schemes

The State Securities Board has issued at least five cease-and-desist orders against cryptocurrency-related companies in recent weeks.

by Karen Robinson-Jacobs, The Dallas Morning News / February 27, 2018

(TNS) — The Texas State Securities Board has issued another cryptocurrency-related emergency cease-and-desist order, this time against a company that used pictures of models and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to represent its management and legal team.

It's at least the fifth cease-and-desist order issued by the agency, which has been among the most active in the nation in the battle against alleged cryptocurrency schemes.

LeadInvest, whose registered agent is based in Panama, is described as a technology company that specializes in developing trading software in the Forex market and bitcoin currency, according to the order.

"The agency's Enforcement Division determined that some of the images that purported to portray its management on its website are, in fact, stock photographs of models sold on the internet," Joseph Rotunda, the agency's director of enforcement, said in an email.

"The Enforcement Division also determined that other photographs are actually images from unrelated websites," he said.

Officials with the company could not be reached for comment.

A portion of the website labeled "the team behind LeadInvest" includes an image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former solicitors general Theodore Olson, Paul Clement and Seth Waxman, Rotunda said.

Another image is of a Texas attorney who "has no affiliation to ... LeadInvest," according to the order.

LeadInvest is accused of deceiving the public through its use of the photographs.

"We recognize that promoters of fraudulent investment schemes can capitalize on the anonymity afforded by the internet to conceal their identity or, perhaps even worse, use the identity of others," he said. "Ultimately, violators may be luring investors through flashy blogs, online marketplaces and social media to purchase nothing more than a promise made through a webpage maintained by an anonymous person from an unknown location.

"Now more than ever, investors need to conduct thorough due diligence to verify the identity of promoters of online investment programs and determine whether they are telling the truth about themselves and their operations."

Rotunda said the company has "literally flooded Craigslist forums with advertisements targeting Texas residents."

On its website, the company said it was founded in May 2010 when "we started developing a basic proof of concept crypto investments website. We had our first bitcoin mining farm in June 2012."

It offers investors this bit of assurance: "Yes! If you're not 110 percent satisfied with our services, contact us and we'll provide you a refund with no questions asked."

©2018 The Dallas Morning News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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