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The US government is going after a New York man for allegedly operating a bitcoin Ponzi scheme.
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Nicholas Gelfman, a Brooklyn resident and head trader at Gelfman Blueprint, a New York-based firm, “fraudulently solicited” $600,000 from 80 clients in a bitcoin Ponzi scheme.
Investors, according to a release from the CFTC Thursday, gave money to Gelfman “for placement in a pooled commodity fund that purportedly employed a high-frequency, algorithmic trading strategy, executed by Defendants’ computer trading program called “Jigsaw.”
“In fact, as charged in the CFTC Complaint, the strategy was fake, the purported performance reports were false, and – as in all Ponzi schemes – payouts of supposed profits to GBI Customers in actuality consisted of other customers’ misappropriated funds,” the CFTC said.
Gelfman covered up the scheme by “staging” a hack.
Since transactions on bitcoin’s blockchain network are decentralized and anonymous, the cryptocurrency provides an attractive option for criminals looking to conduct business outside of the watchful eye of government officials.
The Italian mafia has used bitcoin to launder money for its illicit activities, for instance, and the notorious WannaCry hackers extorted over $140,000 worth of the cryptocurrency from their malware victims.