In a shocking revelation, a father-son duo is facing the consequences of orchestrating a massive crypto scam that embezzled over $10 million from unsuspecting investors. Brandon Austin, 27 years old, has already pleaded guilty, and his father, Eugene “Hugh” Austin, is also under arrest. Their fraudulent activities allowed them to live a life of luxury, staying in posh hotels, driving luxurious cars, and dining in expensive restaurants, all at the expense of deceived crypto investors. This article delves into the details of the scam and its striking similarities to the infamous OneCoin fraud.
Conning Investors for Lavish Living
Federal agents apprehended Brandon Austin in April and later arrested his father, Eugene “Hugh” Austin, on July 5, following allegations of running a massive crypto fraud. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated that the father-son duo “victimized both sophisticated and novice cryptocurrency investors alike out of millions.” The pair enticed people to invest in cryptocurrencies through them, luring them with promises of high returns. However, instead of fulfilling these promises, they embezzled every penny for their personal benefit.
The ill-gotten gains were used extravagantly, including stays in high-end hotels, the purchase of luxurious cars, and dining at upscale restaurants. Moreover, they transferred funds to their loved ones through wire transfers. Brandon sent $50,000 to the mother of his children and $32,000 to his girlfriend, while Hugh transferred $10,000 each to his father and lover.
Glamorous Trips as a Deceptive Tactic
Taking deception to another level, the Austin family organized glamorous trips to New York, Miami, and Europe. They invited investors as special guests, who were unknowingly being set up as the next victims of the scam. Each investor fell victim to different sums, with one unfortunate individual losing over $500,000. When some investors grew impatient and demanded their assets and returns, Hugh replied nonchalantly, saying, “I w call u (sic) in about 25 minutes. Thanks, Hugh.”
Brandon has already pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit $3.4 million, along with paying $2 million in restitution. Additionally, federal agents have seized a 2022 E-Pace P250 Jaguar valued at over $60,000.
Potential Prison Time and Charges
The duo is now facing serious charges, including money laundering and wire fraud, each carrying a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years. The court is scheduled to pronounce Brandon’s sentence on September 6.
Resemblance to the OneCoin Scam
The Austin family’s scam bears a striking resemblance to the infamous OneCoin fraud, one of the largest Ponzi schemes in crypto history. Orchestrated by Ruja Ignatova, also known as “The Cryptoqueen,” OneCoin drained approximately $4 billion from investors between 2014 and 2016.
Like OneCoin, the Austin scam exploited people’s trust and excitement in the crypto space, luring them with promises of lucrative returns. While the scale of the Austin scam may not match OneCoin’s, its methods and impact on victims are eerily similar.
OneCoin’s Disappearance and Speculations
After authorities launched an investigation against OneCoin, Ruja Ignatova mysteriously disappeared. The last known sighting of her was in Athens, Greece, in 2017, and her whereabouts have remained a subject of speculation and conspiracy theories.
Some sources suggest she may be hiding on a luxurious yacht in the Mediterranean Sea, beyond the reach of law enforcement. On the other hand, there are rumors that Ignatova might have met a gruesome fate, allegedly murdered in 2019 due to a Bulgarian drug lord’s ire after investing in her fraudulent scheme.
The case of the Austin family’s crypto scam serves as a stern reminder of the risks and scams prevalent in the crypto industry. It underscores the importance of exercising caution and due diligence before investing in any financial venture. Fraudulent schemes tarnish the reputation of cryptocurrencies and hinder the industry’s growth.
As the legal proceedings unfold, it is crucial for the crypto community to support the victims and collaborate with law enforcement to bring the perpetrators to justice. Initiatives for educating the public about crypto-related scams and promoting transparency are pivotal in building a resilient and trustworthy crypto ecosystem that safeguards the interests of investors and protects against such fraudulent activities.