SEC files ICO fraud charges

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The Securities and Exchange Commission's new Cyber Unit filed charges against and froze the assets of Dominic Lacroix, a Canadian with a history of securities law violations, and his company PlexCorps.

The SEC reported it was able to obtain an emergency court order freezing the assets of Lacroix, Paradis-Royer, and PlexCorps.

Where the SEC actions becomes somewhat interesting is in terms of its worldwide implications, with the PlexCoin and it's founder, Dominic Lacroix, described by the SEC as a "recidivist" securities law violator, being based in Quebec, Canada.

The company sold securities called PlexCoin to investors in the USA and elsewhere, raising $15 million since August, and promising a return of 1,354 percent within 29 days, the SEC said in a statement.

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The SEC's complaint charges Lacroix, Paradis-Royer and PlexCorps with violating the anti-fraud provisions, and Lacroix and PlexCorps with violating the registration provision, of the USA federal securities laws.

These charges are the first such to be issued by the SEC's recently launched Cyber Unit, which was created in September to address cybersecurity threats from foreign and domestic malicious actors, misconduct with token offerings, and the spread of false information.

The SEC said in a statement that it had obtained an emergency order to halt the PlexCorps ICO, which had raised up to $15 million from thousands of investors since August by falsely promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month. From a quick glance, it does not seem to provide any differentiating reason why anyone should invest in their ICO, but promises were seemingly made that token amounts would just increase as well as suggestions of 1,000% profits. CME plans to allow trading in bitcoin futures later this month. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus interest and penalties.

The regulator said this was the first case filed by its brand-new cybersecurity unit, aptly named Cyber Unit.

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The SEC has previously said it would determine on an individual company basis whether coin offerings are securities and so should comply with disclosure and other offering rules. The charges are the result of regulatory collaboration with the Autorité Des Marchés Financiers (AMF).

The PlexCoin saga is not Lacroix's first run-in with North American regulators. Lacroix was further fined $25,000 by the Court of Quebec for illegal distribution, illegal practice and misrepresentations.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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