01 August 2018

Payment in court! Judge orders cyberscammer to pay fine in crypto

Canadian case puts cyberscammer on the spot, ordering a Montreal businessman to pay a fine in cryptocurrency or go straight to jail.

A superior court of Quebec judge ordered a cyber-scammer to pay a fine in cryptocurrency or face jail in a case that goes back to last year, when a Montreal businessman Dominic Lacroix was sentenced to two months in jail and a $10,000 fine in December for deceiving investors from around the world of nearly $15 million in a crypto-currency scam.

PlexCoin scam

Mr Lacroix had launched an initial coin offering (ICO) on social media in August 2017 to fund a digital token startup called PlexCoin, promising lucrative returns and saying PlexCoin would rival Bitcoin. The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) ordered him to stop the ICO before the launch, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission filed a claim against PlexCoin, Mr Lacroix and his partner Sabrina Paradis-Royer in November for making bogus claims, calling Plexcoin ‘a full-fledged cyber scam.’ The maximum fine was imposed on the pair. The Quebec court granted approval for US and Canadian regulators to freeze the defendants’ assets, and Superior Court Judge Marc Lesage told the defendants their ‘greed at the expense of investors who are promised unmatched interest rates remained (your) only goal.’

Payment in court

Despite saying there was no residual value in PlexCoin, the defendants then used the cyber-currency to buy luxury cars in Montreal in the spring and found themselves back in court. Mr Lacroix was ordered to turn over 420 PlexCoin tokens, worth around $3.7 million, to the court-appointed administrator by the following day or be found in contempt of court. He declined because he said the computer with the encrypted password for his PlexCoin account had been seized by the administrator. Judge  Raymond W. Pronovost ordered the computer to be brought into the courtroom, which was closed to the public, and the judge told Mr Lacroix to make the transfer, saying ‘you are liable to contempt of court,’ and warned he would not hesitate to send Me Lacroix to prison if he did not comply. The transfer was made and completed a week later after a court-ordered freeze order on the Bitcoin financial services company handling PlexCoin was lifted.