Yesterday, a man was arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of masterminding a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme that tricked over 10,000 victims.
Neil Chandran, 50, from Las Vegas, was charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property.
Chandran owned several technology companies that marketed themselves to investors, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ), as promising high returns on the basis that they were about to be acquired a consortium of prominent business figures.
He allegedly claimed that investor funds would be used for normal expenses to keep the companies operating until they were purchased.
The indictment alleges that Chandran forced others to make false and misleading representations to investors, including that the firms were about to be purchased by billionaire investors.
The DoJ claimed that, “in fact, according to the indictment, there was no such buyer group that was about to purchase the companies for the claimed returns; a substantial portion of the funds were misappropriated for other business ventures and the personal benefit of Chandran and others, including the purchase of luxury cars and real estate; and there were no prominent billionaires involved in purchasing Chandran’s companies.”
The proceeds of the alleged fraud are being seized by the FBI and US marshals. These 100 assets apparently include luxury vehicles, bank accounts, and real estate.
According to the DoJ, the companies in question operated under the “ViRSE” brand and included Studio Vi, ViDelivery, and ViMarket, amongst others. They were marketed as developing virtual world technologies for use in the company’s metaverse, including cryptocurrency.
Investment fraud was one of the highest-earning cybercrime types last year. $1.5 billion was made by scammers across 20,600 cases reported the FBI in 2021.