Nevada man Bryan Lee has been charged with crimes involving CoinDeal, a so-called metaverse cryptocurrency that was actually an investment fraud scheme.
The company is said to have defrauded investors of $45 million between 2018 and 2022.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has brought charges against Bryan Lee for participating in the CoinDeal investment fraud. Lee joins company founder Neil Chandran among the list of those charged. On February 23, fellow conspirator Mike Glaspie entered a plea agreement for his participation in the scheme.
Court documents allege that Lee helped company founder Chandran manage a number of companies under the banner of “ViRSE”. These companies included Vi Lab, Studio Vi Inc and ViDelivery. Lee and Chandran claimed to own a unique blockchain technology called CoinDeal that was on the verge of being sold for trillions of dollars.
Lee also managed another branch of the company called ViMarket “and took direction from Chandran for how to disburse investor funds received into ViMarket’s bank accounts.”
The DOJ press release further states: “Lee and Chandran allegedly misappropriated millions of dollars of investor funds and spent it on luxury cars and real estate.”
In March New India Abroad revealed that 43 vehicles were seized upon founder Chandran’s arrest. Among the cars were 26 Teslas, a Porsche, a Mercedes Benz, and a Land Rover. Chandran also owned a speedboat, the Malibu Wakesetter 23 LSV, which according to its website is “the best-selling towboat of all time.”
A growing list
Lee joins a growing list of individuals and organizations indicted in connection to CoinDeal. In January of this year, the SEC brought its own case against the fraudulent firm.
Bryan Lee was not among the names being prosecuted at that time. The filing did name Neil S. Chandran, Garry J. Davidson, Michael T. Glaspie, Linda C. Knott, Amy S. Mossel, and a number of related companies.
According to the SEC, Chandran deliberately targeted “unsophisticated investors” – people with little experience in investment.
“Chandran targeted mostly unsophisticated investors with false and misleading promises and representations that investments in CoinDeal would soon yield extremely high returns from the imminent sale of his business. Ultimately, there was no sale, and no distribution of proceeds, because CoinDeal was a sham,” said the SEC.
For Chandran, CoinDeal does not mark his first brush with the law. In 2006, he was ordered by California’s Department of Corporations to cease selling securities. In 2015, he was fined $460,000 CAD by the Alberta Securities Commission, and in 2016 the Ontario Securities Commission banned him from trading. In 2018, Chandran pled guilty to grand larceny and securities fraud in the state of New York. He was fined $2,868,000.
CoinDeal exchange shuts down
The CoinDeal exchange closed in February. Despite sharing a name with Chandran’s fraudulent scheme, the exchange was not connected to him in any way.
“CoinDeal is a strong brand,” said a statement. “So strong, that unfortunately some scammers have used our name to build some fraudulent scheme. SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission) charged creators of a Crypto Scheme with the same name as our exchange.”
The exchange has asked all customers to remove their funds.
Victims of the CoinDeal scam have been invited to submit a victim impact statement to:
Victim Witness Unit, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, Room 4416, Washington, DC 20530 – or to [email protected].