Atlanta film producer Ryan Felton has pleaded guilty to charges indicating he ran a cryptocurrency scam that saw him steal over $2.5 million from crypto investors.
The film producer, indicted in the US over his activities around the crypto projects Flik and CoinSpark, is facing a jury trial and reportedly pleaded guilty four days into the proceedings.
Felton faces multiple charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering, the US Department of Justice revealed in a press release.
Scam via 2017 ICO
US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in the release that Felton’s fraudulent scheme started in 2017 during the initial coin offering boom.
According to the charges, the producer used the massive interest in cryptocurrencies at the time to promote an ICO for FLiK, alleging to unsuspecting victims that the project was set to rival and even surpass streaming giant Netflix.
The public sale for the coin received huge interest when Felton falsely linked FLiK to a prominent US rapper and actor, misrepresenting the individual as a co-owner.
He also lied about FLiK having a distribution agreement with the US military and content licensing with a leading Hollywood studio. He then scammed investors of roughly $2.4 million from FLiK, before going on to divert further funds from CoinSpark, a cryptocurrency exchange that had raised more than$200,000 from investors, to his personal account.
Per the prosecution, Felton used the money to fund his “extravagant lifestyle,” buying a $1.5 million residence paid for in an all-cash transaction. He also bought a 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB for $180,000, a Chevy Tahoe for $58,250 and splashed $30,000 on diamond jewelry.
“The defendant used 21st century technology to perpetrate an age-old fraud: lying to investors to steal their money and fund his own lavish lifestyle,” Buchanan said.
He believes Felton’s conviction will help deter others likely to seek such avenues of getting money from investors.
Felton, 48, is awaiting sentencing, the DOJ said in the press release.