Criminals seem to have nine lives when it comes to crypto

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“I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days. 

So goes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s optimistic take on the durability of New York’s investment class. Crypto’s cavalcade of alleged and convicted criminals shows that many don’t just have a second act — they have three, or four, or more.

Here’s a gallery of rogues whose reputation wasn’t enough to ruin their chances in crypto:

Convicted criminals in crypto

Charlie Shrem

  • Then: The co-founder of BitInstant and the Bitcoin Foundation served two years in prison for facilitating money transactions for the criminal enterprise Silk Road.
  • Now: Shrem is involved with crypto wallet company Jaxx, Dash DAO, and is the founder of CryptoIQ.

Michael Patryn (AKA Omar Dhanani, 0xsifu)

  • Then: In 2004, at age 20, Dhanani served 18 months in prison for offering money laundering services as part of the identity theft operation Shadowcrew, using an early digital currency called E-gold.
  • Later: Patryn co-founded Ponzi-scheme crypto exchange, Quadriga CX.
  • Now: Stepped down from role as treasurer of Wonderland, the hybrid DAO, investment fund, and reserve currency project — whereabouts unknown — sparking controversy amongst many Wonderland HODLers.

Floyd Mayweather

  • Then: Mayweather has participated in a run of crypto scams and rugpulls including Ethereum Max, Bored Bunny, Real Floyd NFT, and others, all of which have collapsed.
  • Later: Mayweather promoted a bespoke NFT project called Mayweverse, which failed to completely mint, and whose Discord was abandoned by its devs and most users, but not before all proceeds were transferred.
  • Now: Mayweather is currently promoting FloydNFT — which is exactly what it sounds like.

Jordan Belfort

  • Then: Belfort, of Wolf of Wall Street fame, served 22 months for operating a penny stock pump and dump scheme at his firm Stratton Oakmont.
  • Later: In 2018, he publicly took the position that bitcoin was a scam: “Get out if you don’t want to lose all of your money.”
  • Now: Belfort is a serial crypto investor and promoter. He’s a headline speaker at crypto conferences.

Martin Shkreli 

  • Then: Investigated by the SEC for suspiciously timed short sales, but was ultimately cleared.
  • Later: Imprisoned for securities fraud and conspiracy stemming from fraudulent accounting, embezzlement, and market manipulation.
  • Now: Days after his release, announced his fondness for using Uniswap behind bars, and has begun a public dialog on various crypto projects.

Richard Heart

  • Then: Lost a nominal-fee lawsuit initiated by a nonprofit, after the court found that he was responsible for a massive deceptive spam email campaign using fake addresses and misleading tactics.
  • Now: Heart is the founder of the widely criticized (and widely subscribed) crypto project HEX.

Read more: Police still unsure if crypto millionaire was abducted or just lying low

Alleged criminals

John McAfee

  • Then: In 2012, McAfee was a person of interest in the murder of his neighbor in Belize, and fled the country before officials cleared him of suspicion.
  • Later: In 2019, the anti-virus software developer announced he had not filed a tax return in years, averring taxation to be “illegal.”
  • Now: McAfee committed suicide in a Spanish prison last year, awaiting extradition to the US on tax evasion and crypto fraud charges.

Riccardo Spagni

  • Then: The Monero lead maintainer was taken into custody to await extradition to South Africa, July 2021, facing 20 years for charges of payment invoice fraud occurring at his previous employer, Cape Cookies.
  • Now: Spagni is still listed as the lead maintainer for Monero, is slated to appear at Blockchain Africa 2023, and is the co-founder of blockchain project Tari Labs.

‘Honorary’ mention

Moshe Hogeg

Hogeg has been accused of a litany of crimes after his crypto ventures. He’s arguably the worst crook on the list but just got his receipts in a different order.

  • Then: Founder and promoter of three vaporware ICO projects: Sirin Labs, Leadcoin, and Stox, which gained worldwide attention via numerous celebrity investors and partnerships.
  • Now: Currently free on bail, Israeli authorities have revealed that crypto criminal Hogeg is additionally suspected of sex trafficking, carrying out indecent acts, sexual harassment, operating a location for the purpose of prostitution, invasion of privacy, and bringing an individual into prostitution. He’s also suspected of supplying drugs and alcohol to underage girls.