A federal court has ordered a man to pay more than $571 million in fines for operating a ‘fraudulent bitcoin trading scheme’


  • A judge ordered a UK man to pay $571 million in fines for an allegedly fraudulent bitcoin scheme.
  • Benjamin Reynolds allegedly took about 22,000 bitcoin from customers, now worth about $1.2 billion.
  • Reynolds didn’t appear in court in New York, and is “purportedly” in Manchester, US regulators said.
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A court has ordered a man to pay penalties totalling about $571 million, after finding that he acquired more than 22,000 bitcoin through a fraudulent online scheme.

The fine was announced by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulator on Friday.

The bitcoin handed over by more than 1,000 customers in 2017 as part of the alleged scheme was valued at about $143 million at the time, but would now be worth about $1.22 billion.

The CFTC named Benjamin Reynolds, a British national, as the person behind the alleged scheme. But the CFTC didn’t seem to know exactly where Reynolds was, saying in a press statement that he was “purportedly” living in Manchester, England.

Reynolds was ordered on March 2 to pay about $143 million in restitution and $429 million in a civil monetary penalty, according to the CFTC statement.

The judgement was issued by Mary Kay Vyskocil, a judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Vyskocil wrote that Reynolds had “failed to appear or answer the Complaint.”

The CFTC alleged that Reynolds in 2017 used a website, social networks, and email to solicit about 22,190.542 bitcoin from people around the world.

Conducting business under the name Control-Finance Limited, Reynolds collected bitcoin from more than 1,000 people, including about 169 people living in the US, the CFTC said.

Control-Finance Limited was registered in England in September 2016, with its official address listed in a nondescript office building in the center of Manchester, according to UK government records. Reynolds, who was born in 1983, was listed as the company’s sole director.

Under Reynolds, Control-Finance solicited bitcoin from customers who thought they were investing the cryptocurrency, according to the CFTC complaint.

“Among other things, Reynolds falsely represented to customers that Control-Finance traded their bitcoin deposits in virtual currency markets and employed specialized virtual currency traders who generated guaranteed trading profits for all customers,” the CFTC said.

Reynolds also allegedly created an “elaborate” affiliate marketing network that promised to pay “outsized referral profits” and other rewards for bringing new bitcoin customers to Control-Finance.

The CFTC said: “In fact, Reynolds made no trades on customers’ behalf, earned no trading profits for them, and paid them no referral rewards or bonuses.”

The regulator said Reynolds said he would return all the deposited bitcoin to customers of Control-Finance by October 2017. He “instead retained the deposits for his own personal use,” it said.

UK government records listed Control-Finance Limited as dissolved as of February 2018.

Vyskocil’s judgement against Reynolds said the penalties would accrue interest if not paid immediately.

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New COVID-19 variant that is 70% more transmissible threatens UK. London suddenly put on lockdown and Christmas is canceled.

Boris Johnson
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus

  • London and some surrounding areas will enter into Tier 4 from Sunday morning.
  • The tougher restrictions are in response to a fast-spreading variant of COVID-19.
  • The new variant is believed to be up to 70% more transmissible.
  • Christmas is canceled for those in Tier 4. Elsewhere in England, the proposed five-day relaxation of rules has been dropped.
  • Wales will be bringing in similar restrictions from tonight.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London and parts of the South East and East of England will be entering into ‘Tier 4’ lockdown restrictions from Sunday morning.

The tougher restrictions, announced at short notice, are in response to the sudden emergence of a fast-spreading variant of COVID-19. The new variant of the virus is currently believed to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain.

It does not, however, appear to be more lethal or resistant to existing vaccines.

While much is unknown about the new variant, Johnson explained that action is immediately required. “We already know more than enough to be sure that we must act now,” he said.

New restrictions in the most affected areas, those that are moving from Tier 3 to Tier 4, will be equivalent to those during November’s national lockdown.

In London, parts of the South East and East of England, residents will be expected to stay at home apart from limited exemptions set out in the law.

Non-essential retail, indoor gyms, leisure facilities, and personal care services will close from midnight on Saturday.

Those in Tier 4 will be expected to work from home if they can, avoid staying elsewhere overnight, and to avoid leaving their local area.

Across all of England, people will be advised not to travel. “We’re asking everyone in all tiers to stay local. People should carefully consider if they need to travel abroad,” Johnson said.

Christmas will also be ‘canceled’ for those in Tier 4 areas.

The prime minister said: “It’s my duty to take difficult decisions and to do what is right to protect the people of this country. Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of this virus and the potential risk it poses, it is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”

In addition to the tougher rules for those in Tier 4, those in Tier 3 will also have to change their Christmas plans. The five proposed days of ‘Christmas bubbles’ will now be replaced with a three-household bubble on Christmas Day alone.

“Christmas this year will be different, very different, but we must be realistic. We’re sacrificing the chance to see our loved ones so we have a better chance of protecting their lives so that we can see them at future Christmases,” the prime minister said.

Following the announcement, Wales’ government announced that it will bring in new restrictions similar to England’s from tonight. 

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is also expected to announce tougher restrictions later this evening.

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Alarm over a mutant COVID-19 strain in the UK. Boris Johnson calls an emergency meeting to combat the more infectious coronavirus.

Boris Johnson covid
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic, inside 10 Downing Street on December 16, 2020.

  • On Friday evening, Boris Johnson held an emergency meeting to discuss a new strain of COVID-19.
  • The prime minister was handed alarming evidence about the mutant strain, according to The Telegraph.
  • The Government could introduce a travel ban on journeys in and out of London as soon as Saturday, reports the Mirror.
  • The new strain is believed to be more infectious than the original variant, scientists believe.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Friday evening, Boris Johnson summoned ministers to an emergency meeting to discuss a mysterious new strain of coronavirus prevalent in London and large parts of Southern England.

In the meeting, the prime minister was given alarming new evidence on the mutant strain of COVID-19. The possibility of introducing stricter lockdown restrictions as soon as Saturday was also discussed, according to The Telegraph.

Johnson is said to be weighing up imminently introducing a travel ban on journeys in and out of London to stop the spread of the strain, reports the Mirror.

It is understood that a decision has not yet been made.

The strain, referred to by scientists as ‘VUI – 202012/01’, is believed to be causing the faster spread of coronavirus in parts of the South East of England.

In Kent, the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is higher than during the previous peak in the Spring. London, also experiencing a surge, was placed into the toughest ‘Tier 3’ restrictions this week.

Scientists believe the variant to be more infectious than the original strain. A government official told The Guardian: “There are concerns that it is more transmissible than the existing strain – and that sense is hardening.”

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons: “Initial analysis suggests this variant is growing faster than the existing variants.”

Hancock explained that the World Health Organization had been notified about the mutant strain. At least 60 different local authorities have seen infections from this variant and scientists are currently investigating it in detail, according to the BBC

Talk of introducing tougher restrictions comes just days before the UK is expected to relax the rules for the Christmas period.

Between 23 and 27 December, people across the UK are permitted to form ‘Christmas bubbles’ with three households allowed to meet.

Scientists have warned against this Christmas relaxation and have suggested that they could lead to a national lockdown in January and February.

Johnson, on Friday, refused to rule out a potential third lockdown for England.

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England due to begin mass vaccinating people on Tuesday. ‘This coming week will be a historic moment,’ said the Health Secretary.

Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine clinical trial, vaccination of first volunteer
A volunteer receives an experimental vaccination for the coronavirus in a clinical trial at the University of Maryland’s medical school.

  • England will start administering COVID-19 vaccinations beginning on December 8.
  • The National Health Service (NHS) said in an official statement the first people to get the vaccine will be people over 80, care home workers, and NHS workers who are at “higher risk.”
  • The first batch of vaccinations will be done at hospitals around the country, with GP surgeries starting to administer injections starting the week beginning December 14. 
  • As more doses of the vaccine become available, the NHS plans to set up mass injection centers in sporting venues and conference spaces.
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This coming week will be a historic moment as we begin vaccination against COVID-19.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

England’s National Health Service (NHS) has released the details of its official rollout of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which will begin early next week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This coming week will be a historic moment as we begin vaccination against COVID-19.

“We are prioritizing the most vulnerable first and over-80s, care home staff and NHS colleagues will all be among the first to receive the vaccines.”

The UK became the first country to authorize the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which Pfizer says is 95% effective.

The NHS said vaccinations would begin on Tuesday and that the first “wave” of injections will be done at 50 hospital hubs.

“People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers will be first to receive the jab, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk,” the NHS said in a statement. 

The NHS said patients aged 80 or over who are already in hospital as an outpatient or being discharged home after a hospital stay would be among the first to get the vaccine. Hospitals will also start inviting over-80s to come in for a jab and talk to care home providers to get their staff vaccinated.

“Any appointments not used for these groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from COVID,” the NHS said.

Patients will need to return for a booster jab 21 days after the initial injection, the NHS said.

“Despite the huge complexities, hospitals will kickstart the first phase of the largest scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history from Tuesday. The first tranche of vaccine deliveries will be landing at hospitals by Monday in readiness,” NHS national medical director Stephen Powis said in a statement.

“The NHS has a strong record of delivering large-scale vaccination programs – from the flu jab, HPV vaccine and lifesaving MMR jabs – hardworking staff will once again rise to the challenge to protect the most vulnerable people from this awful disease,” he added.

The NHS said that the following week – starting December 14 – a small number of GP surgeries will start administering the vaccine. Eventually, the vaccine’s rollout will include large-scale vaccination centers in sporting venues and conference spaces, according to the NHS press release.

Pfizer told the BBC on Wednesday, December 2, that the UK will receive 800,000 doses of the vaccine this coming week – meaning the first wave of two-shot vaccinations will be enough for roughly 400,000 people.

In total, the UK has ordered roughly 40 million doses, meaning it will have enough to vaccinate 20 million out of its population of 66.7 million.

The UK has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday recording over 60,000 total deaths. Counting all deaths where coronavirus is mentioned on the death certificate, the UK has surpassed 75,000.

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