The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is making progress in the sentencing process for key individuals involved in the AirBit Club cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme. On October 3, the office of the U.S. attorney for New York announced the sentencing of three of the five surviving defendants in the AirBit case.
Scott Hughes, an attorney who allegedly laundered approximately $18 million in AirBit Club fraud proceeds, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Cecilia Millan, a senior-level promoter of AirBit Club, was sentenced to five years in prison. Karina Chairez, another senior-level promoter, received a sentence of one year and one day in prison.
In addition to their prison terms, Hughes was sentenced to three years of supervised release, while Millan and Chairez were sentenced to three years and three months of supervised release, respectively.
The AirBit Club scheme was launched in late 2015 and was promoted as a multi-level marketing club in the cryptocurrency industry. The defendants provided presentations that promised guaranteed daily returns from crypto mining and trading to deceive investors. However, instead of funding the promoted crypto operations, $100 million of investors’ money went to the pockets of the founders and promoters.
Despite some early complaints about withdrawal delays and hidden fees in 2016, the AirBit Club scheme managed to continue its fraudulent activity until 2020.
U.S. attorney Damian Williams emphasized that Hughes, Millan, and Chairez each played crucial roles in perpetuating the AirBit Club pyramid scheme. He stated, “Today’s sentences send a message that anyone who facilitates cryptocurrency investment schemes will face serious consequences for such crimes.”
This development follows the sentencing of AirBit Club co-founder Pablo Rodriguez to 12 years in prison in September 2023. Another co-founder, Dos Santos, who has pleaded guilty to various charges, is scheduled to be sentenced on October 4, 2023.
Dos Santos will be the last defendant to be sentenced among the six individuals behind AirBit Club. One of the defendants, Jackie Aguilar, who pled guilty in February 2023, reportedly passed away in May, a few weeks prior to sentencing.
The sentencing of key individuals involved in the AirBit Club Ponzi scheme marks a significant step towards justice for the victims and sends a strong message about the consequences of engaging in fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes. It also highlights the efforts of authorities to crack down on such illegal activities in the cryptocurrency industry.