The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is making progress in sentencing the individuals responsible for the cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme known as AirBit Club. On October 3, the U.S. attorney for New York announced that three of the five surviving defendants in the AirBit case have been sentenced. The defendants, Scott Hughes, Cecilia Millan, and Karina Chairez, had all previously pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges earlier in 2023.
Hughes, who was an attorney involved in laundering approximately $18 million in AirBit Club fraud proceeds, received a sentence of 18 months in prison. Millan, a senior-level promoter of AirBit Club, was sentenced to five years in prison. Chairez, another senior-level promoter, received a sentence of one year and one day in prison. In addition to their prison terms, Hughes, Millan, and Chairez were also sentenced to three years of supervised release.
The AirBit Club scheme was launched in late 2015 and was marketed as a “multi-level marketing club” within the cryptocurrency industry. The defendants used persuasive presentations to deceive investors into believing that AirBit Club would provide guaranteed daily returns through crypto mining and trading. However, instead of using investors’ funds for these purposes, the founders and promoters of AirBit Club pocketed $100 million.
Although some users had complained about withdrawal delays and hidden fees in early 2016, AirBit Club managed to continue their fraudulent activities until 2020.
U.S. attorney Damian Williams emphasized the significant roles played by Hughes, Millan, and Chairez in perpetuating the AirBit Club Ponzi scheme. He stated, “Millan and Chairez aggressively solicited investments from and misled hardworking and unsophisticated investors to line their own pockets.” Williams added that the sentences send a strong message that anyone involved in facilitating cryptocurrency investment schemes will face serious consequences.
Earlier in September 2023, AirBit Club co-founder Pablo Rodriguez was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Another co-founder, Dos Santos, who pleaded guilty to various charges including wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering, and bank fraud conspiracy, is scheduled to be sentenced on October 4, 2023.
Dos Santos will be the last defendant to be sentenced out of a total of six defendants associated with AirBit Club. One of the defendants, Jackie Aguilar, had pleaded guilty in February 2023 but tragically passed away in May, just weeks before sentencing.
The sentencing of the key individuals responsible for the AirBit Club Ponzi scheme is an important step towards accountability and justice for the victims. It serves as a warning to others involved in similar fraudulent activities that they will face severe consequences for their crimes. The U.S. District Court’s actions demonstrate the commitment to protecting investors and maintaining the integrity of the cryptocurrency industry.