The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged a Texas couple with defrauding investors for $500,000 with a water-backed token sale.
Announced on Friday, Larry Donnell and Shuwana Leonard duped over 500 investors by selling bogus stock certificates and also digital tokens linked to their alkaline water-backed company and a non-existent Bitcoin mining operation.
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Donnell, a former pastor, and his wife primarily targeted the minority African-American community and initially attempted to raise $20 million with the sale of the fraudulent digital tokens.
Along with the two, the SEC also named the two companies – Teshuater and Teshua Business Group – as defendants in the lawsuit.
The investors were trapped in the scam with a promise of a short-term return of up to 3,000 percent.
The SEC charges also alleged that the two put the funds into the speculative crypto options market.
“Among other things, he lied about the usability of TeshuaCoins and falsely claimed that TeshuaCoins were backed by real assets owned by Teshuater (i.e., the bottled water sold by the company),” the SEC stated. “Finally, Larry Leonard, individually and on behalf of Teshuater, peddled investments in a purported high-yield, short-term Bitcoin-mining1 program. The Bitcoin-mining program, however, never existed.”
The two also used the raised funds to cover personal expenses.
The charges alleged that the two companies had violated the country’s Securities Act’s anti-fraud and registration provisions.
A vigilant agency
The watchdog agency is seeking “permanent injunctive relief; disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest thereon; civil penalties; and all other equitable and ancillary relief to which the Court determines the Commission is entitled.”
The SEC is vigilant against fraudulent crypto schemes and busted many scammers for duping Americans with lucrative schemes – the two high profile initial coin offering (ICO)-related cases being Telegram’s Gram token and Kik’s token sale.