The popular Instagram influencer Jebara Igbara, also known as “Jay Manzini,” pleaded guilty to money laundering, wire fraud, and wire fraud conspiracy. He used the social media platform to promote various schemes to investors but, in fact, defrauded them with $8 million.
In addition, Igbara told his followers he wanted to buy a huge amount of bitcoin and that authorized exchanges would not allow him to accumulate such a stash. He urged Instagram users to send him BTC, assuring he will pay premium prices for those transactions. Needless to say, he pocketed approximately $2.5 million worth of the primary cryptocurrency from the lured individuals.
Prison Time for the Criminal
The US Department of Justice announced that the so-called Instagram influencer “Jay Manzini” will face up to 20 years in federal prison for his offenses.
He admitted using his fame on the social media platform to popularize investment products to his followers, mainly part of the New York Muslim community. The scams resulted in at least $8 million drained from conned individuals.
“With today’s plea, the defendant has admitted leveraging his Instagram popularity to prey upon innocent investors and steal at least $8 million of their hard-earned money. Together with our agency partners, this Office is committed to bringing scammers to justice,” the statement reads.
Additionally, “Jay Manzini” ran a multi-million bitcoin Ponzi scheme. He posted ads on his Instagram stories, maintaining he wanted to buy such large amounts of BTC that prominent trading venues like Binance and Coinbase would not allow him.
He promised to pay above-market prices for the bitcoin his fans sent to his personal wallet and provided fabricated pictures of wire transfers. However, he never sent those funds and ended up stealing the people’s assets:
“All the victims, in this case, were promised something that was too good to be true. The victims of the bitcoin advance fee scheme were guaranteed above the current market value for their bitcoin.
This multi-million dollar case is a reminder for anyone thinking of investing: Be skeptical of any investments with larger-than-life promises, because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Fattorusso warned.
The Punishment Might not be That Tough
Despite running a multi-million scam, pleading guilty could result in a reduced prison sentence for “Jay Manzini.”
The Florida resident Joshua David Nicholas, who stole $100 million worth of crypto from investors, admitted his crime in September and is expected to stay behind bars for up to five years.
On the other hand, Da Corte, Gonzalez, and Meza, who stole $4 million in digital currencies from banks and exchanges, have not pleaded guilty and might spend up to 30 years in jail.