The CEO of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services Inc. (TBIS) pleaded guilty Friday for his role in a cryptocurrency fraud scheme involving TBIS’s initial coin offering (ICO) that raised approximately $21 million from investors in the United States and overseas.
According to court documents, Michael Alan Stollery, 54, of Reseda, California, was the CEO and founder of TBIS, a purported cryptocurrency investment platform, and touted TBIS as a cryptocurrency investment opportunity, luring investors to purchase “BARs,” the cryptocurrency token or coin offered by TBIS’s ICO, through a series of false and misleading statements. Although he was required to do so, Stollery did not register the ICO regarding TBIS’s cryptocurrency investment offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), nor did he have a valid exemption from the SEC’s registration requirements.
Stollery admitted that, to entice investors, he falsified aspects of TBIS’s white papers, which purportedly offered investors and prospective investors an explanation of the cryptocurrency investment offering, including the purpose and technology behind the offering, how the offering was different from other cryptocurrency opportunities, and the prospects for the offering’s profitability. Stollery also planted fake client testimonials on TBIS’s website and falsely claimed that he had business relationships with the Federal Reserve and dozens of prominent companies to create the false appearance of legitimacy. Stollery further admitted that he did not use the invested money as promised but instead commingled the ICO investors’ funds with his personal funds, using at least a portion of the offering proceeds for expenses unrelated to TBIS, such as credit card payments and the payment of bills for Stollery’s Hawaii condominium.
Stollery pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 18 and faces up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Cory Nootnagel of the Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Western Region, made the announcement.
The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and the Federal Reserve Board’s Federal Reserve Board’s OIG Western Region San Francisco Office are investigating the case.
Fraud Section Trial Attorneys Kevin Lowell, Tian Huang, and Andrew Tyler are prosecuting the case.