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Journalist facing charges for alleged $ 4.8m cryptocurrency with

A journalist who once wrote for the New York Times could have spent 20 years behind bars if he had been ripping off start-ups to the tune of $ US3.5 ($ A4.8) million.

Jerry Ji Guo, a 31-year-old Yale University graduate, was arrested on November 9 in Puerto Rico on wire-fraud charges.

According to a detailed The Daily Beast article on Mr Guo's exploits, he allegedly swiped millions in cryptocurrency from a number of companies that hired him as consultant.

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He allegedly carried out his scheme through initial coin offerings (ICO) – a type of fundraising using cryptocurrencies in which a certain amount of crypto is sold to investors in the form of tokens, in exchange for either cash or other cryptocurrencies.

Mr. Guo touted himself as an expert in a crypto "wallet".

On August 19, he allegedly drained those wallets, stealing $ US3.5 million in Bitcoin and Ethereum, reporter Kevin Poulsen revealed.

Mr Mark Matulich, Mr Guo, allegedly lured into clients by an intentionally making materially false and misleading statements about his experience and credentials as an ICO consultant.

After receiving upfront payments from clients, it is alleged he did "little to no work as promised under the contracts" before eventually emptying the wallets without the knowledge or the authorization of his victims.

Mr Matulich claims that when the FBI started looking into Mr. Guo, they found their relationship with him.

I also raised a $ US100 million for a company called Polymath.

But according to Mr. Matulich, "Polymath ended his relationship with Guo did not actually do anything".

Mr Guo, who has been himself online as a "serial blockchain entrepreneur", has also claimed to have transacted "over-the-counter trades between $ 50- $ 350 million in size".

Mr Guo will be transferred to San Jose in California to face an "eight-count indictment" which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail, The Daily Beast reported.

According to Mr. Guo's LinkedIn profile, he graduated with an economics degree from Yale in 2009 and went on to become a New York Times contributor and then an internship as a foreign correspondent for Newsweek, which later merged with The Daily Beast.

In 2011, he co-founded a tech start-up called Grouper who arranged to be a group of friends, and also served as a head chef in Beijing.

While working for Newsweek, Mr Guo allegedly used to be a member of the country's tourism board.

After he left the publication, Gawker claims Newsweek's legal department received a slew of complaint

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au

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