A California man who duped investors out of $147 million in a global digital currency scam of “epic proportions” has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, federal prosecutors said.
Steve Chen cheated some 72,000 investors worldwide by passing off his company US Fine Investment Arts as an extractor of amber and other gemstones from non-existent mines in the US, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Argentina, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Prosecutors said Chen sold investors “points” for shares between $1,000 and $30,000 each when the company would later go public — but he never intended for that to happen.
Chen, of Bradbury, later started peddling a phony digital currency called “Gem Coins” in September 2014 in lieu of the fake stock, falsely promoting them as legitimate cryptocurrency backed up by the company’s gemstone holdings, prosecutors said.
Chen promoted the Ponzi scheme, which lasted from July 2013 to September 2015, using a marketing