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This crypto scam bilked investors out of $11 million — and paid action star Steven Seagal to promote it

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This crypto scam bilked investors out of $11 million — and paid action star Steven Seagal to promote it

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It was a crypto scam straight out of a Steven Seagal movie, featuring the action film star himself, a private eye, a staged kidnapping and millions of dollars that vanished into thin air.

Prosecutors say the fraud left nearly 500 investors out more than $11 million in cash and a mix of established cryptocurrencies that they had plunked into a purported crypto-mining operation — with the promise of up to 200% gains within 60-to-90 days. 

But instead of reaping huge returns, the money was funneled into accounts overseas controlled by Kristijan Krstic, an accused Serbian-Australian huckster living in the Philippines with a history of fraud allegations, federal prosecutors and investigators with the SEC say.     

Last week, John DeMarr, a 55-year-old California private investigator who had served as the frontman for the scam pleaded guilty to helping run the fraud while pocketing nearly $2 million which he used to buy a Porsche and a BMW, pay off over $1 million in debts and finance a lavish renovation of his Seal Beach home.

He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 4, 2022. 

A broader scam

Days after the indictment against DeMarr was announced in February, federal prosecutors in Texas unsealed a broader criminal indictment against Krstic and 15 other defendants, many of them Serbian nationals, on wire fraud and money laundering charges. In that case, the group is accused of running as many as 20 similar cryptocurrency scams that bilked…

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