A Swedish national charged with running an international fraud that raked in more than $16 million in cryptocurrency pled guilty in a US federal court on Thursday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson and his company, Eastern Metal Securities (EMS), of engaging in a scheme that defrauded more than 3,500 victims in 46 countries.
Karlsson allegedly used two websites, www.hci25.com and www.easternmetalsecurities.com, to encourage victims to invest using cryptocurrencies in a ‘Pre Funded Reversed Pension Plan’.
The documents submitted to the court paint a fairly concise picture of his fraudulent scheme, outlining his interaction and contact with less experienced victims. They were solicited to buy phony investment plans for less than $100, promising a 450-fold return through an eventual payout of 1.15 kilograms of gold per share.
Roger, who was extradited to the United States from Thailand in 2019, offered his victims risk-free investments through guaranteed and backed up plans that at least double their invested capital.
In particular, the documents cite emails to victims where he guaranteed returns of around 97%, in the event that the gold payout did not happen. In fact, no such plan existed, and no payouts occurred as returns on any real investments are nowhere near these rates.
Created in late 2012 and dissolved after 7 years, Karlsson’s scheme defrauded hundreds of deaf and hard-of-hearing people who invested their retirement funds in his million-dollar crypto scam. To mask his fraud, he used several aliases to operate his base from in Thailand, including Steve Heyden, Euclid Deodoris, Joshua Millard, Lars Georgsson, Paramon Larasoft and Kenth Westerberg.
Karlsson spent most of his victims’ monies to pay for his personal expenses, including expensive homes and a resort in Thailand, his country of residence, before being extradited to the US.
He pleaded guilty to securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 40 years in prison and a fine of $750,000.