A board on the floor of the NYSE shows the price of oil at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York City on March 9, 2016. On Monday, the SEC pressed charges against a cryptocurrency firm for misleading investors. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Monday that it filed charges against a cryptocurrency firm that promised investors it would be the next Bitcoin, but might be a scam.
The SEC said Dominic Lacroix, through his company, PlexCorps, violated U.S. securities laws and misled investors who put money into PlexCoin, which he promised would yield a 1,354 percent profit in 29 days.
"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," said Robert Cohen, Chief of the Cyber Unit. "We acted quickly to protect retail investors from this initial coin offering's false promises."
Lacroix, who the SEC described as a "recidivist Quebec securities law violator," amassed $15 million from thousands of investors since August.
The SEC also charged Lacroix's partner, Sabrina Paradis-Royer.
"Lacroix and Paradis-Royer misappropriated investor funds and engaged in other deceptive acts relating to investments in the PlexCoin Token, despite having both been enjoined by a Quebec tribunal from engaging in the very conduct that is the subject of this action," the SEC said in the criminal complaint.
But Lacroix and Paradis-Royer deny the allegations.
"We are being depicted as robbers, scammers and fraudsters everywhere in the media. They are smearing our name with some allegations that can sometimes be false or misleading," a statement on the PlexCorps Facebook page said Monday. "You will notice that no accusations were deposed against the defendants so far in Canada. All PlexCoin purchased were distributed and we are now listed on many cryptocurrency exchanges. We claim that PlexCoin is not a fraud since no one had their money stolen from us and once more, all purchased PlexCoin were distributed."
According to CNBC, the SEC has increased its scrutiny of cryptocurrency firms, which has led to a devaluing for some, despite Bitcoin's recent spike.