ATLANTA (AP) — A movie producer has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of fraud and money laundering stemming from his fraudulent promotion of two cryptocurrency investment schemes, federal prosecutors said.
Ryan Felton, 48, entered his plea Thursday on the fourth day of his jury trial in his hometown of Atlanta.
“Defendant used 21st century technology to perpetrate age-old fraud: lying to investors to steal their money and fund his own lavish lifestyle,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a press release. “Felton’s conviction should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to leverage emerging technologies to victimize others.”
Investigators said Felton in 2017 promoted an initial coin offering, or ICO, for an entertainment streaming platform promising to outperform Netflix. Prosecutors said he falsely promoted that Atlanta rapper TI was a co-owner of the FLiK rig, that the U.S. military agreed to distribute the rig to service members, and that FLiK was finalizing agreements to licensed with major film and television studios.
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Instead of using investor funds to develop the platform, Felton used approximately $2.4 million from investors to fund an extravagant lifestyle. He bought a $1.5 million house, a Ferrari, a Chevy Tahoe and about $30,000 worth of diamond jewelry, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia said.
Felton promoted a second ICO for a new company in 2018. Investigators say he raised over $200,000 for CoinSpark and again diverted money to his personal bank account.
“The technology has advanced, but the crime remains the same, and those investing in cryptocurrency should beware of opportunities that seem too good to be true,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley. “The FBI is committed to protecting investors from sophisticated cryptocurrency scammers seeking to capitalize on the novelty of digital currency.”
Felton pleaded guilty to 12 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of money laundering and two counts of securities fraud.
Sentencing will be set at a later date before U.S. District Judge JP Boulee.
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