Matthew Piercey, the trader accused of two fraudulent companies that solicited tens of millions to seemingly invest in cryptocurrency mining, life insurance and other assets, was arrested by authorities after a failed attempt to escape FBI agents using one. marine scooter.
According to Californian media The Sacramento Bee, the 44-year-old man from Shasta County escaped agents who tried to arrest him for an hour. He first escaped in his truck from his home in Redding, California.
After driving through residential areas of the city, the suspect swerved off the road twice as he headed to Interstate 5, before ditching his vehicle at the edge of Lake Shasta.
Piercey then spent about 25 minutes in the lake while being dragged underwater using a sea scooter, a water-powered device that helps divers move underwater at speeds of up to 4 miles per hour. Unfortunately for him, he was arrested when he emerged from the lake.
Piercey now faces several allegations of computer fraud, postal fraud, money laundering and witness tampering in connection with the operations of his investment firms Family Wealth Legacy LLC and Zolla Financial LLC.
The two companies are believed to have received $ 35 million from investors since 2015 for “investment products” including cryptocurrency mining schemes, healthcare investments and stocks. The companies were targeting wealthy investors, with minimum investments limited to $ 50,000.
However, Piercey allegedly admitted to an associate that his companies’ “Investment Fund” did not exist. Furthermore, the accused Ponzi operator is believed to have little understanding of cryptocurrencies aside from using the term as a password. Joshua Cons, a lawyer representing Family Wealth Legacy clients, said:
“I don’t know they knew what they were doing with encryption.”
Piercey is believed to have spent $ 2.5 million renovating two houses and credit card bills. His accused accomplice, Kenneth Winton, is also believed to have spent $ 1 million of the funds on a houseboat.
Prosecutors say $ 8.8 million of the raised funds were provided to previous investors to create the illusion that the funds were generating profits, adding:
“Of the remaining net investment of approximately $ 26 million, little or no liquidity remains to repay investors.”
The prosecution also noted that Piercey could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty. The incident underscores how easy it is for even wealthy investors to lose money on non-existent cryptocurrency “investment opportunities”.