A complaint was filed in federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday charging Jegara Igbara, also known as “Jay Mazini,” with wire fraud related to a scheme in which the defendant allegedly induced victims to send him Bitcoin by falsely claiming to have sent wire transfers of cash in exchange for the Bitcoin.
Investigators say Igbara never sent the money and stole at least $2.5 million worth of Bitcoin from victims. Igbara is currently being held on state charges in New Jersey and will make his initial appearance in the Eastern District of New York at a later date.
Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI), announced the charge.
“As alleged, Igbara used his immense social media popularity to dupe his followers into selling him Bitcoin,” stated Acting United States Attorney Lesko. “This Office will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners to stop fraudsters like the defendant from perpetrating social media scams that prey on innocent victims.”
“As we allege, Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values. A behind-the-scenes look, however, revealed things aren’t always as they seem. There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims. A quick search of the Interwebs today will reveal an entirely different image of this multimillion-dollar scammer.” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “If anyone out there has information about this case, we urge you to file a complaint online at tips.fbi.gov.”
“Buyer beware when making purchases of Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency over social media,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Larsen. “This defendant allegedly used his online popularity to defraud those seeking to exchange Bitcoin for cash above the market value. Always be on your guard and don’t fall prey to these cryptocurrency schemes.”
As set forth in the complaint, up until March 2021, Igbara, under the name “Jay Mazini,” maintained a popular Instagram account with nearly one million followers where he would post videos depicting himself handing out large amounts of cash to individuals as gifts. Beginning in or around January 2021, Igbara began posting videos to his Instagram account offering to buy Bitcoin from other Instagram users at prices 3.5% to 5% over market value.
Igbara claimed that he was willing to pay above-market prices because the traditional Bitcoin exchanges were limiting how much Bitcoin he could purchase. When victims agreed to transact in Bitcoin with Igbara, he sent them documents that included images of purported wire transfer confirmation pages that falsely confirmed Igbara had sent a wire transfer for the promised amounts. In response, the victims supplied Igbara with the Bitcoin, but the promised wire transfers never arrived. Bank records showed that, as to at least one victim, Igbara did not have funds in the account identified in the wire transfer receipt that was sufficient to cover the wire transfer he had promised to make.
This investigation remains ongoing, and anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of this scheme is asked to file a complaint online with the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.
The charge in the indictment is an allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Igbara faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Business & Securities Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan Reilly and Lauren Howard Elbert are in charge of the prosecution.