Steven Seagal was once known for his action hit “Hard To Kill” and “Under Siege” back in the 90s. However, the 69-year-old martial act star will now be known for scamming $11 million out of 500 investors.
How The Fraud Saga Started
In 2017, Start Options, an online investment platform that provides a variety of crypto-related services like cryptocurrency mining, trading and digital asset trading was looking for investors to invest in their company.
The website was founded by Kristijan Krstic who went by the name of Felix Logan and has a history of running Ponzi schemes in Australis and Canada while John Demarr, a California private investigator was the frontman for the scam.
The platform claimed to own large cryptocurrency mining farms in China that would deliver investors gains of up to 200% within 60 to 90 days. Investors were also given false statements that their money is growing, but in reality, the money was transferred into an overseas account controlled by Kristijan Krstic.
Pic via Bloomberg
Demarr also diverted $2 million of the investors’ money into his own pockets, using it to buy fancy BWM and Porsche and renovating his new beach home.
Months later, investors are starting to sense something wrong and asked for their money.
They were then told that their money was being rolled over to the initial offering of a new cryptocurrency called Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G) and they will be rewarded with an additional coin for everyone they had invested. In the meantime, the scammers decided to hire a brand ambassador to make the lie even more convincing.
In comes Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal might be thinking he’s getting the big bucks by promoting the cryptocurrency, but instead, it has gotten him into big trouble.
Seagal was getting paid with the promise of $250,000 plus $750,000 in B2G coin for endorsing the cryptocurrency.
On social media, Seagal urged his then-nearly 7 million followers on Facebook to ‘not miss out on the B2G opportunity”, claiming that he’s also an investor of the new crypto.
It all seemed to work out well until March 2018, Krstic and Seagal announced that they were leaving the company. Krstic then disappeared, along with the $7 million in the accounts he had control over.
The scam got exposed blatantly when Demar made an outrageous claim saying that the company was acquired by the Russian venture funds. Not long later, the company issued an announcement saying Demarr was assaulted and that investors should stop trying to contact him.
Demarr now faces up to five years in prison and Seagal was charged to pay a $157,000 fine by The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for ‘unlawfully promoting the cryptocurrency investment scheme’.
Seagal is a long-time admirer of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s longest-serving president. He was granted citizenship by Putin in 2016.
Seagal has only made a $75,000 payment to the SEC but then has since relocated to Russia and did not respond to SEC repeated demands.
Krstic’s whereabouts remain unknown while investigators say that more than $4 million from the B2G scams remain unaccounted for.
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