US SEC Cyber Unit files first charges against ICO scam
06 December, 2017, 01:14 | Author: Pamela Mathis
The SEC said in a statement that it had obtained an emergency order to halt the PlexCorps ICO, which had raised up to $15 million from thousands of investors since August by falsely promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month.
Initial coin offering don't typically offer equity in a company issuing them. The SEC acknowledged the assistance of Quebec's Autorité Des Marchés Financiers. Lacroix was further fined $25,000 by the Court of Quebec for illegal distribution, illegal practice and misrepresentations. PlexCoin was promoting the PlexCoin as recently as December 1st.
PlexCorps has already run afoul of Canadian regulators, who ordered it to stop soliciting investment for PlexCoin; Lacroix himself was previously banned from dealing in securities after allegedly defrauding investors in a micro-loan venture.
Lo and behold, the SEC cyber unit's first case is yet another indication they plan on subjecting ICOs to the same securities laws as traditional investment products.
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Lacroix, business partner Sabrina Paradis-Royer and PlexCorps are alleged to have violated the registration provision of the US federal securities laws with the SEC seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus interest and penalties against the accused.
Cyber Unit Chief, Robert Cohen, said, "This first Cyber Unit case hits all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam and is exactly the kind of misconduct the unit will be pursuing". Furthermore, the reason that PlexCorps did not disclose the identity of its principal executive, Lacroix, was because he was a known recidivist securities law violator in Canada.
The SEC is seeking a permanent injunction, a judgement ordering the defendants to disgorge the profits with interest and to pay financial penalties, the agency said. The Cyber Unit was put together in September of this year in order to focus the SEC's enforcement arm on, "misconduct involving distributed ledger technology and initial coin offerings, the spread of false information through electronic and social media, hacking and threats to trading platforms", according to the press release. The commission also charged Dominic Lacroix and Sabrina Paradis-Royer, the company's founders, in connection with the sale. The SEC would also have Lacroix and Paradis-Royer barred from offering digital securities, and have Lacroix barred from holding officer-and-director positions.
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