Former Deutsche Bank Rashawn Russell Arrested for Cryptocurrency Investment Fraud, Could Serve up to 20 Years in Prison

On April 11, a former investment banker and registered broker, Rashawn Russell, was arraigned on an indictment in federal court in Brooklyn for perpetrating a cryptocurrency investment fraud scheme. Russell was arrested the previous day in Brooklyn and appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr. for arraignment.

According to court documents, Russell engaged in a scheme to defraud multiple investors by falsely promising that their money would be used for cryptocurrency investments that would generate large—and sometimes “guaranteed”—returns. However, much of the investors’ money was misappropriated by Russell and used for his personal benefit, to gamble, and to repay other investors. Russell formerly worked as an investment banker and was a registered broker with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

As part of the scheme, Russell lied to investors about the status of their investments and fabricated multiple documents that he sent to investors. He even sent an altered image of a bank balance displayed on a bank website that purported to show Russell’s substantial liquidity to one investor. When another investor sought to recoup their investment, Russell never sent the money and instead sent the investor a fabricated bank wire transfer confirmation that purported to show the return of the investor’s money.

“Russell turned the demand for cryptocurrency investments into a scheme to defraud numerous investors in order to fund his lifestyle,” said United States Attorney Peace. “This Office will continue to aggressively pursue fraudsters perpetrating these schemes against investors in the digital asset markets.”

Russell is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The arrest and indictment were announced by Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Eric Shen, Inspector-in-Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Criminal Investigations Group (USPIS).

This case serves as a warning to investors to be wary of investment opportunities that seem too good to be true, particularly in the cryptocurrency market. As always, investors should conduct their due diligence and carefully research any investment opportunities before committing any funds.

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