The owner of several metaverse companies has been arrested for an alleged investment fraud in which more than 10,000 victims were defrauded for more than $45 million.
Last week, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) said that Las Vegas resident Neil Chandran had been arrested for allegations of fraud†
The 50-year-old owns companies operating under the “ViRSE” brand, including Free Vi Lab, Studio Vi, ViDelivery and ViMarket.
Chandran’s companies developed technologies for the virtual world, including their own cryptocurrency, for use in the company’s own metaverse. ViRSE calls itself “the virtual universe of people, places, and content accessible from any internet-enabled device on the planet.”
According to the DoJ, Chandran used the companies as part of a plan that “falsely promised extremely high returns” to investors, because one or more of his companies were about to be acquired by a “wealthy” consortium.
The DoJ’s indictment alleges that the executive defrauded more than 10,000 individuals for more than $45 million by claiming that at least two billionaires were part of the takeover talks, and that while the deal was closed, investors’ money would be diverted. used to keep the businesses running normally.
US prosecutors say no buyers existed. Instead, a “significant” portion of investors’ money was spent on personal assets, including real estate and luxury cars.
More than 100 different assets are listed in the indictment, including bank accounts, property and 39 Tesla vehicles. The FBI and US Marshals are seizing many of the assets pending the results of an investigation.
On June 14, a federal grand jury in the Nebraska district filed an indictment against Chandran, who has now been unsealed.
The DoJ set out three counts of wire fraud and two counts of engaging in money transactions in criminally acquired property. If found guilty, the executive faces up to 20 years behind bars for each count of wire fraud and up to 10 years in prison for the property charge. An indictment is only an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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