- A Swedish man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for swindling $16 million from victims in a crypto scheme.
- Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson, 47, ran an investment fraud scheme from 2011 until 2019 from Thailand.
- He lured victims to purchase shares from his company using cryptocurrencies but transferred the funds directly to his personal account.
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A Swedish national was sentenced to 15 years in prison after swindling thousands of victims out of more than $16 million in a cryptocurrency fraud, the Department of Justice said in a statement Thursday.
Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson was arrested on June 17, 2019 in Thailand and was extradited to the US. He pleaded guilty on March 4, 2021.
According to the DOJ, the 47-year-old ran an investment fraud scheme from 2011 to 2019.
His scheme involved convincing victims to purchase shares of his company, Eastern Metal Securities, using cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and promising them “astronomical returns” tied to the price of gold.
Karlsson used his website to lure potential investors to purchase shares of less than $100 a piece with an eventual payout of 1.15 kilograms of gold per share. On January 2, 2019, gold was worth more than $45,000 per kilogram.
Karlsson – known by several aliases including Steve Heyden, Euclid Deodoris, Joshua Millard, Lars Georgsson, Paramon Larasoft, and Kenth Westerberg – would then wire the funds provided by the victims to his personal bank accounts, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle. This included snapping up expensive homes, a racehorse, and a resort in Thailand.
Karlsson’s fraud targeted financially insecure investors, the department said, causing many of them severe financial hardship.
The scheme, however, was not over once the funds were transferred.
To prolong his fraud, Karlsson would even update his victims with the state of their assets. In one instance, when he was trying to explain payout delays, he said he was working with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
As part of the sentence, Karlsson was ordered to forfeit his resort and other properties and accounts. He also issued a money judgment in the amount of $16,263,820.
The US is now seeking restitution on behalf of his victims.
Cryptocurrency fraud schemes have been on the rise ever since digital assets exploded in popularity in recent years. Fraudsters have also become creative in the ways they swindle people.