U.K. Man Must Pay $571 Million Over Stolen Bitcoin, CFTC Says

A U.K. man accused of scamming consumers into sending him more than 20,000 Bitcoin has been ordered to pay $571 million in penalties.

But collecting the money could be tough because U.S. authorities don’t seem to know where the alleged fraudster, Benjamin Reynolds, is.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced the sanctions in a Friday statement, saying a March 2 order issued by a federal court in Manhattan required Reynolds to pay a $429 million fine and almost $143 million in restitution.

Reynolds, purportedly from Manchester, England, solicited the Bitcoin from consumers between May 2017 and October 2017, telling them that he would trade the tokens in virtual currency markets to increase profits, the CFTC said. In reality, he made no trades on behalf of clients and made them no money, according to the regulator. The Bitcoin he obtained was worth $143 million at the time and the alleged scam ripped off almost 170 customers who resided in the U.S., the CFTC said.

The order issued earlier this month by the Southern District of New York said Reynolds “failed to appear or answer” the CFTC’s complaint after the agency sued him in January 2019. In its statement, the CFTC cautioned victims that restitution orders might not result in the recovery of assets because wrongdoers may have insufficient funds to pay.

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