In total, more than 10,000 individuals were scammed
The owner of a technology firm has been arrested for allegedly defrauding more than 10,000 people out of over $45 million in an investment scam.
The Department of Justice said Neil Chandran, aged 50, of Nevada, was arrested in Los Angeles.
According to the indictment, Chandran owned a group of technology companies under the umbrella name ‘ViRSE’, which he claimed were about to be acquired by a group of wealthy buyers.
Chandran also claimed to potential investors that their funds would be used for normal expenses to keep the companies operating until they were bought.
He said that prominent business figures, including two billionaires, were involved in the deal.
Chandran’s companies included Free Vi Lab, Studio Vi Inc, ViDelivery Inc, ViMarket Inc, and Skalex USA Inc, among others.
They developed virtual-world technologies, including their own cryptocurrency, for use in the companies’ own metaverse.
As part of the investment scam, Chandran allegedly caused other individuals to make various materially false and misleading representations to investors, including that investors in his companies would soon receive extremely high returns when one or more of those companies was purchased by a group of wealthy buyers.
In fact, there was no such buyer group that was about to purchase the companies for the claimed returns.
Investors transferred their money to Chandran via credit cards, wire transfers and cryptocurrency payments to accounts under the names AEO Publishing Inc, Banner Co-Op Inc and BannersGo LLC.
In total, more than 10,000 individuals were scammed out of $45 million.
Chandran allegedly used the money to invest in other businesses and also used the money to buy luxury homes and cars.
Chandran is charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in the criminally derived property.
If he is convicted, Chandran faces up to 80 years in prison.
This breaks down to 20 years for each of the wire fraud counts and up to 10 years for each count of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.
The indictment lists more than 100 assets as proceeds of the fraud that will be forfeited pending resolution of the criminal case.
The assets include bank accounts, California and Nevada real estate properties and dozens of vehicles, including 39 Teslas.
US Marshals and the FBI are seizing most of the assets.
According to the indictment, the US Attorney’s Office has requested that the trial be held in Lincoln, Nebraska.