* Marco Ruiz Ochoa pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in U.S. District Court.
* IcomTech, founded in 2018, falsely promised guaranteed daily returns on cryptocurrency investments.
* The scheme involved lavish events and promotional tactics to lure victims.
The Guilty Plea
Marco Ruiz Ochoa, the former CEO of IcomTech, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on September 27, 2023, before U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Rochon. The announcement was made by Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Ochoa’s guilty plea is part of a broader investigation into IcomTech, a large-scale cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors by promising guaranteed daily returns on cryptocurrency investments.
The Scheme’s Operations
IcomTech was initially founded in 2018 by David Carmona, with Ochoa serving as the CEO until 2019. The company falsely claimed to engage in cryptocurrency mining and trading, promising investors high returns. In reality, the company did not engage in any such activities. Funds from new investors were used to pay older investors and for personal enrichment of the promoters, including Ochoa and his co-defendants David Carmona, Juan Arellano, Moses Valdez, and David Brend.
The promoters of IcomTech, including Ochoa, traveled extensively both within the United States and internationally to host events aimed at attracting more investors. These events often featured luxury cars and clothing to give an impression of legitimate success. Despite the festive atmosphere, most investors were unable to withdraw their so-called profits and ultimately lost their entire investments.
Victim Complaints and Collapse
As early as August 2018, investors faced difficulties in withdrawing funds from their online portal accounts. When complaints arose, IcomTech promoters offered proprietary crypto tokens, known as “Icoms,” claiming they would eventually hold significant value. These tokens turned out to be worthless, leading to further financial loss for the victims. By the end of 2019, IcomTech ceased payments and collapsed.
Ochoa, 35, of Nashua, New Hampshire, now faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison for his role in the scheme. The case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, with assistance from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Just a day before Marco Ruiz Ochoa’s guilty plea in the IcomTech case, Pablo Renato Rodriguez, co-founder of AirBit Club, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a similar cryptocurrency pyramid scheme. Announced by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Rodriguez and his co-defendants have been ordered to forfeit approximately $100 million in assets. The sentencing comes as a reminder of the recurring issue of cryptocurrency scams, with co-defendants awaiting sentencing in early October 2023.
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