15 years in prison for a Swedish man for stealing $16 million in a gold-backed cryptocurrency scam

47-year-old Swedish man Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson was sentenced to 15 years in prison on accounts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering after scamming over 3,500 victims for stealing $16 million in cryptocurrency.

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43-year-old Swedish man Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson was arrested in the kitchen of his home on Monday, June 17th last on the paradise island of Koh Chang

15 years behind bars for a Swedish man who stole over $16 million in Bitcoin

Karlsson pleaded guilty in March of this year after being arrested on June 17, 2019, and extradited to the U.S. to face charges. In addition, nine years ago, Karlsson reportedly created a fake company called “Eastern Metal Securities (EMS)”, which he used to lure at least 3,575 victims to buy shares in Bitcoin over a nearly decade-long period.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed that the crypto scammer promised his victims massive payouts in gold and said that if he could not deliver the gold, they would receive at least 97% of their initial investment back. Specifically, investors participating in EMS from 2012 to 2019 will be purchased for less than $100, eventually receiving a profit equivalent to 1.15 kg of gold. In 2019, 1.15kg of gold was worth more than $45,000. Today, its value would be more than $58,000.

“Karlsson’s false promises of a profitable investment with minimal risk bilked tens of millions of dollars from his unsuspecting victims,” IRS-CI special agent in charge Kelly Jackson said in a statement. “Karlsson’s admission today will hopefully provide some measure of justice for the more than 3,500 victims he scammed and put them on a path to financial restoration. We were glad to provide our expertise in tracing virtual currency in this investigation, diminishing the belief of anonymity associated with these transactions.”

Karlsson ensures EMS is up and running for as long as possible by regularly rebranding, releasing updates, and providing asset reports. Furthermore, he gave his victims fake financial statements and assured them that their money (mainly in the form of cryptocurrencies) was in safe hands.

After joining for a while, investors saw no return, and instead Karlsson – who also uses online aliases including Steve Heyden, Euclid Deodoris, and Joshua Millard – siphoned off the cryptocurrency and use cash for personal purposes.

The fraudulent scheme continued until Karlsson was arrested in Thailand in 2019 and later on extradited to the U.S. The investigation revealed that he used the funds entirely for his personal enrichment, acquiring a resort in Thailand, luxurious condos, and even a racehorse:

“The investigation into Roger Karlsson’s fraud uncovered a frighteningly callous scheme that lasted more than a decade during which Karlsson targeted thousands of victims, including financially vulnerable seniors, to callously rob them of their assets and all to fuel an extravagant lifestyle surrounded by luxury condominiums and lavish international vacations.”

All $16-plus million will be paid back to the victims amid a restitution order being entered by the court within the next three months. Karlsson’s prison sentence could have been longer, but he pleaded guilty to all charges against him and will see the inside of a prison cell for a reduced period of 15 years. Prosecutors also hope to guarantee refunds to former EMS investors, and the order will go to court within 90 days.

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