‘Bitcoin Yoda’ faces 75 years for operating a crypto Ponzi scheme

The two are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice


The US Department of Justice charged two men with operating a crypto Ponzi scheme.

David Saffron, an Australian national, and Vincent Mazzotta of California stole $25 million from victims under multiple false entities, including one dubbed the “Federal Crypto Reserve.”

The men are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

According to a DOJ press release, the two are looking at hefty maximum sentences of roughly 75 years, with each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering racking up 20 years. Additionally, they face 20 years for wire fraud, five years for obstruction of justice and 10 years for money laundering. 

Saffron faces a potential extra 10 years due to allegedly committing “felonies while on pre-trial release.”

Back in 2019, Saffron was charged by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for engaging in a scheme to defraud victims of bitcoin and USD.

Read more: CFTC highlights record number of tip-offs stemming from the crypto industry

The scheme prompted victims to invest “in various trading programs that falsely promised to employ an artificial intelligence automated trading bot to trade victims’ investments in cryptocurrency markets and earn high-yield profits.”

The money that the two received from victims was put towards private jet flights, luxury hotels, a personal chef and security guards as well as renting out private mansions.

Aside from the Federal Crypto Reserve, the two also used names such as “Circle Society, Bitcoin Wealth Management, Omicron Trust, Mind Capital, and Cloud9Capital.”

When victims would try to recover the stolen funds, the Federal Crypto Reserve (operated by Mazzotta and Saffron) would step in to help, with Saffron operating under aliases such as Bitcoin Yoda, David Gilbert, Blue Wizard and David Gabe.

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