US government goes after alleged crypto scammers as market crashes


The US government seems to be worked up about cryptocurrency scams and it is going after the alleged scammers as the market crashes.

Last Thursday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Justice all released statement that they were taking some form of action against people accused of carrying out multimillion or billion-dollar schemes.

One of the cases involves knock-off apes, one is the “largest fraudulent scheme involving Bitcoin charged in any CFTC case,” and one involves someone nicknamed “the Cryptoqueen.” The wave of enforcement is happening against a backdrop of plummeting crypto prices.

The regulator has filed an action against a company called Mirror Trading International (MTI), which was run by a South African man named Cornelius Johannes Steynberg.

The commission says MTI pitched potential investors by saying it had a bot that invested a pool of Bitcoin into opportunities individual investors may not have access to. Allegedly, people ended up contributing 29,000 Bitcoin to the fund, hoping to get a return on their investment. MTI collapsed in 2020, but the CFTC says those Bitcoin were at one point worth over $1.7 billion.

What actually happened, according to the CFTC, is that Steynberg and MTI “misappropriated, either directly or indirectly, all of the Bitcoin they accepted from the pool participants.”

Basically, the commission says it was a multilevel marketing scheme, or MLM. While the agency says it’s trying to get the money back for the alleged victims (as well as ban Steynberg from future trading and violations), it does warn that it won’t necessarily be able to do that because “the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets.” The CFTC notes that Steynberg was recently detained in Brazil.

A federal prosecutor called OneCoin “one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history,” according to Reuters. The FBI is offering $100,000 for information leading to Ignatova’s arrest.

One final note on this story before we move on to the last one: I’d argue that “Cryptoqueen” is a bit of a misnomer for Ignatova, as there isn’t evidence an actual blockchain was involved. If we’re looking to crown a person who’s allegedly been involved in billion-dollar schemes as the queen of crypto, I can think of someone better suited for the throne.

Razzlekhan erasure aside, let’s wrap this round up with a set of stories from the DOJ. On Thursday, the department announced charges in four separate cases that it says “serve as a crucial reminder that some con artists hide behind trendy buzzwords, but at the end of the day they are simply seeking to separate people from their money.” One of those cases involves an NFT collection originally called the “Baller Ape Club,” which the DOJ alleges rug-pulled investors after collecting around $2.6 million. (Yes, the press release actually uses the phrase “rug pull,” alleging that the people behind the apes ended the project, deleted the website, and attempted to launder the funds by transferring them through a series of blockchains and through services meant to mix together coins.)

The other cases — an alleged Ponzi scheme that generated almost $100 million, a “purported cryptocurrency investment platform” that the DOJ says “fabricated purported business relationships” with companies like Apple and Disney, and a trading pool that said it used an investment bot to make money — bear some similarities to MTI, OneCoin, and other cases we’ve covered. While fraudsters may be putting crypto paint on their schemes, it’s just covering up the same old tricks.

The one potential ray of hope is that these scams may become less attractive (or at least less profitable) as major coins such as Bitcoin and Ethereum drop in value like they’ve been doing over the past few months. Of course, the crash does come at the expense of companies that actually operate within the law as well. Major exchanges have laid off hefty portions of their workforce, some coins have dropped nearly to zero, and some investors have been, at points, left unable to withdraw their funds. (In one case, allegedly thanks to someone nicknamed “Bitcoin Jesus.”)

To give you an idea of how far Bitcoin has fallen, that $1.7 billion in Bitcoin that people invested into MTI? Cointelegraph says it’s now worth around $564 million. (Though given how many coins there are and how volatile Bitcoin’s price is, that’s subject to change moment by moment.)

Send your news stories to and via WhatsApp on +233 244244807 Follow News Ghana on Google News Aviator


  1. Get in touch with summitrecoup com to help recover all your funds. They’re legit and the Best out there. Payment after full recovery.

  2. Traders who have been scammed before,my advise out there is for you to be wise before you invest in any binary option trade or broker,i was scammed $120,000.00USD by online broker but at last i found someone who help me to recover all my lost funds back from a scam that shocked my capital with an unregulated broker,if you need assistance with regards of your lost funds from your broker or maybe your broker manager is asking you to make more deposit before you could make a withdrawal or your account has been manipulated by your broker manager or your broker has blocked your account just because they need you to make more deposit to your account.if you’re interested in getting all your lost funds back kindly get in contact with Mr Zhang Cromanz ,he was the one who helped me get back my lost funds,contact him via his email:(zhangcro @ he will guide you on the steps i took in getting all my refunds.

  3. “I had a withdrawal issue with them and couldn’t get my funds when i initiated a withdrawal, They ask me to pay 20% upfront fees, I did and they asked for me. It’s not so good if everyone complains about a particular issues and nothing is been done to correct it, Except we use external recovery companies like FASTFUNDSRECOVERY , Before withdrawal issues are resolved. It’s fraud to just wake up and decide to block my account for no reason, why? they kept telling me stories about verifying my income, when did you guys become the governement? I was finally able to get my funds recovered by the help of FASTFUNDSRECOVERY , You can use them if you in such situation.

  4. The scams are getting creative and using many ways. I saw an ad on facebook about Tradercryptox, maybe I was naive that I didnt investigate them properly, but turned out to be scam. I deposited about $78,000 and they cleared my account and stopped picking my calls. I had to use help from Assetsrepo before they recoup my loss for me. Even if crypto is going to stay for long I think its going to be hard for a lot of people to trust it due to the vulnerability.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here