Man Charged in $110 Million Cryptocurrency Scheme
Department of Justice Press Release Number: 23-131 - Cybercrime Financial Fraud Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
A Puerto Rico man is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon at the federal courthouse in Manhattan to face commodities fraud, commodities market manipulation, and wire fraud charges in connection with the manipulation of the Mango Markets decentralized cryptocurrency exchange.
According to court documents, Avraham Eisenberg, 27, engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain approximately $110 million worth of cryptocurrency from the cryptocurrency exchange Mango Markets and its customers and achieved this objective by artificially manipulating the price of certain perpetual futures contracts. He was previously arrested on Dec. 26, 2022, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, pursuant to a criminal complaint and ordered detained.
“Exploiting decentralized finance platforms is the new frontier of old-school financial crimes in which criminals abuse emerging technologies for their own personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “With this prosecution, the Criminal Division is sending the message that no matter the mechanism used to commit market manipulation and fraud, we will work to hold those responsible to account.”
Mango Markets is a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange that allows investors to, among other things, purchase and borrows cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-related financial products. Mango Markets is run by the Mango Decentralized Autonomous Organization (the Mango DAO). The Mango DAO has its own crypto token named MNGO, which investors can buy and sell. Holders of the MNGO token are allowed to vote on changes to the Mango Markets platform and issues related to the governance of the Mango DAO.
“As alleged, Avraham Eisenberg manipulated the Mango Markets cryptocurrency exchange in order to obtain over $100 million in illicit profits for himself,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Through his scheme, Eisenberg left others holding the bag. Market manipulation is illegal in all of its forms, and this office is committed to prosecuting such schemes wherever they occur – including the cryptocurrency markets.”
“The defendant is alleged to have executed a scheme through which he fraudulently acquired over $100 million worth of cryptocurrency,” said Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI New York Field Office. “The FBI is dedicated to safeguarding the integrity of all financial markets and will ensure any individual willing to exploit one be held responsible in the criminal justice system.”
Eisenberg is charged in the Southern District of New York with one count of commodities fraud, one count of commodities manipulation, and one count of wire fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the commodities fraud count, a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the commodities manipulation count, and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud count.
The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations and IRS Criminal Investigation. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission initiated parallel civil proceedings.
National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) Trial Attorney Jessica Peck and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Burnett and Noah Solowiejczyk for the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.
The NCET was established to combat the growing illicit use of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. Under the Criminal Division, the NCET conducts and supports investigations into individuals and entities that enable the use of digital assets to commit and facilitate a variety of crimes, with a particular focus on virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and infrastructure providers. The NCET also sets strategic priorities regarding digital asset technologies, identifies areas for increased investigative and prosecutorial focus, and leads the department’s efforts to collaborate with domestic and foreign government agencies as well as the private sector to aggressively investigate and prosecute crimes involving cryptocurrency and digital assets.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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