An Australian crypto “finfluencer” must pay nearly AU$500,000 ($371,000) to one of his followers after persuading him to invest in a number of products and schemes that never paid off.
The Age reports that New Zealand native Ziv Himmelfarb paid pharmacist-turned-crypto hustler Alex Saunders nearly AU$335,000 ($249,000) in Bitcoin and over AU$144,000 ($107,000) in Ether in three transactions between February and May of this year.
Himmelfarb alleged that Saunders — founder of paywalled digital media channel Nuggets News — initially pitched a number of crypto funds and development projects via Facebook Messenger.
Despite promises of a “more traditional investment product,” Himmelfarb claims that what Saunders was actually selling was not registered in Australia, and thus was in breach of the investment contract.
He subsequently filed a civil action in August. Saunders didn’t respond to the action and his social media accounts went quiet in July, shortly before Himmelfarb lodged his case.
Saunders reportedly hasn’t posted to social media since then.
Himmelfarb’s AU$492,000 ($365,000) default judgment represents the first time that a crypto influencer in Australia has been successfully sued by a follower.
The judgement was calculated to Himmelfarb’s losses, as well as interest and costs, noted The Age.
Himmelfarb can also file for Saunders’ bankruptcy if he fails to pay within 21 days of the ruling.
Crypto finfluencer shilled NFTs too
According Australian Financial Review (AFR), Saunders in August faced wrath of crypto traders demanding refunds from a “shady” NFT sale he launched in November 2020.
Saunders issued 100 NFTs priced at 1 ETH each ($520 then, $3,800 now).
The NFTs were supposed to grant buyers entry to a Nuggets News HQ in Ethereum-powered digital realm Decentraland.
On Facebook, Saunders claimed NFT holders could access “an educational, collaborative workspace in virtual reality,” complete with digital offices and a function center.
However, the company hired to build the virtual space, Polygonal Mind, was never paid and the project simply vanished.
Polygonal Mind chief exec Daniel Garcia told AFR they’d finished building the assignment in Decentraland, but the date of the launch was repeatedly pushed back.
“When we learned of all these other problems [Saunders] has been having, we have drawn a line under this one and let it go. We don’t want to be associated with this kind of activity,” said Garcia.
“I believe he could have made a lot of money running this legitimate business, so why all this shady stuff?”
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