On May 19, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the charging of a Nevada man for his alleged participation in CoinDeal, an investment fraud scheme that purportedly defrauded more than 10,000 people of over $45 million.

Bryan Lee, of Las Vegas, made his initial appearance in federal court last Friday. According to court documents, Lee allegedly conspired with Neil Chandran and others to defraud investors in companies that Chandran controlled. The companies operated under the banner of “ViRSE,” and included Free Vi Lab, Studio Vi Inc., ViDelivery Inc., ViMarket Inc., and Skalex USA Inc., among others. Investors were told the companies were developing virtual-world technologies, including their own cryptocurrency, for use in the metaverse. 

Chandran allegedly promised extremely high returns on the premise that his companies were about to be acquired by a consortium of wealthy buyers. According to the indictment, there was no such buyer group that was about to purchase the companies for the claimed returns.

  Lee was the nominee owner and director of ViMarket, and the DOJ claims he took direction from Chandran for how to disburse investor funds received into ViMarket’s bank accounts. The indictment alleged a substantial portion of the funds were misappropriated for other business ventures and for the personal benefit of Chandran and others, including the purchase of luxury cars and real estate.

CoinDeal is one of many of its kind to draw fraud charges. The prevalence of such scams even prompted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to previously create its own fake site promoting a fake investment opportunity under the guise of “Howey Coins” to warn buyers about such scams. Anyone who clicked on the “Buy Coins Now” button on the fake site was instead directed to investor education tools and tips from the SEC and other financial regulators. 

Lee is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property. If convicted, Lee faces up to 110 years in prison.

Chandran was arrested in June 2022 and charged for his alleged role in the scheme. Michael Glaspie, who is said to have fraudulently marketed the investment with Chandran’s companies under the name “CoinDeal,” pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in February 2023 and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with white collar crime and government investigations. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.