In 2015, AirBit Club came into existence, wooing potential investors with the allure of guaranteed, passive daily returns through cryptocurrency trading and mining. These lucrative promises sounded alluring to many, which set the stage for the fraud that would ensue.
False Promises and Delays
By 2016, red flags began to emerge. Members eager to cash in on their investments faced numerous obstacles:
- Sudden fees out of nowhere.
- Seemingly endless delays.
- The troubling stipulation that returns would only be granted if they onboarded new members.
But the real operation was far from what was marketed. According to Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rodriguez didn’t invest the money as claimed.
“Rodriguez didn’t just fail to invest; he went further, ensnaring victims’ funds in a convoluted laundering maze involving Bitcoin, attorney trust accounts, and a web of international front and shell companies,” Williams revealed in a recent statement.
Instead of crypto trading, it was all a façade to line Rodriguez’s pockets.
The law eventually caught up with Rodriguez. Following an intensive U.S. Homeland Security Investigations investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice charged the AirBit Club operators, including Rodriguez, with money laundering and fraud in August 2020.
Pablo Rodriguez, one of the masterminds behind the AirBit Club scheme, would find his reckoning in March. Pleading guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges, Rodriguez’s actions were held up to scrutiny in a U.S. district court.
The AirBit Club Verdict
District Court Judge George Daniels delivered a heavy sentence for the deceitful co-founder: 12 long years behind bars. But that wasn’t all. Following this sentence, Rodriguez will endure an additional three years under supervised release. The penalties didn’t stop there.
The court ordered Rodriguez to relinquish a staggering $65 million, part with approximately 3,800 Bitcoins valued at nearly $100 million, and give up assets like his luxurious Irvine home in California.
Further financial restitution included the forfeiture of $900,000 confiscated from his residence and nearly a million previously earmarked for a premium Gulfstream jet.
But Rodriguez wasn’t acting alone. Other accomplices in AirBit Club — Dos Santos, Scott Hughes, Cecilia Millan, and Karina Chairez — have admitted their guilt. Their fate? They currently await the court’s sentencing, a stark reminder of the consequences of fraudulent undertakings.
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