The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York makes strides in the sentencing phase for key figures involved in the infamous cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme, AirBit Club.
Sentences Handed Down for AirBit Club Defendants
On October 3, the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York officially disclosed the sentencing of three individuals among the five surviving defendants linked to the AirBit case. These sentenced individuals, Scott Hughes, Cecilia Millan, and Karina Chairez, had previously pleaded guilty to money laundering and related charges earlier in 2023.
Scott Hughes, an attorney implicated in laundering around $18 million in proceeds from the AirBit Club fraud, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Cecilia Millan, a senior-level promoter for AirBit Club, faces five years behind bars, while Karina Chairez, another senior-level promoter, received a one-year-and-one-day prison term.
In addition to their prison sentences, Hughes has been ordered to serve three years of supervised release, Millan will serve three years and three months of supervised release, and Chairez will have three years of supervised release.
The Deceptive Cryptocurrency MLM Club
The AirBit Club scheme, which commenced in late 2015, masqueraded as a “multi-level marketing club” operating within the cryptocurrency sector. The defendants utilized enticing presentations to deceive investors, promising daily returns through crypto mining and trading activities.
However, instead of funding the fictitious crypto operations, approximately $100 million of investors’ funds ended up in the hands of the scheme’s founders and promoters. Despite early user complaints about withdrawal delays and concealed fees in 2016, the AirBit Club persisted in its fraudulent activities until 2020. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams highlighted the pivotal roles played by Hughes, Millan, and Chairez in perpetuating the AirBit Club pyramid scheme. Williams emphasized that “Millan and Chairez aggressively solicited investments and misled investors to line their own pockets.”
He underscored, “Today’s sentences send a message that anyone who facilitates cryptocurrency investment schemes, not just those at the pyramid’s apex, will face serious consequences for such crimes.” AirBit Club co-founder Pablo Rodriguez, who received a 12-year prison term in late September 2023. Another co-founder, DOS Santos, has pleaded guilty to various charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and bank fraud conspiracy.These sentences follow the recent sentencing of
Santos is slated to be sentenced on October 4, 2023. He is the final defendant to be sentenced among the six individuals associated with the AirBit Club, with one defendant, Jackie Aguilar, passing away before sentencing in May after pleading guilty in February 2023.