The Texas Securities Commission (TSC) has issued an emergency cease and desist order against a Russian crypto firm, according to an official press release published September 18. The Texas regulator states that the company allegedly misappropriated both Coinbase and CryptoNewspeople materials to attract investors.
The firm, operating as Coins Miner Investment Ltd., is said to have spoofed the email address of major U.S. crypto exchange and wallet service provider Coinbase in order to make its email solicitations to investors seem as if they were endorsed by the entity.
The cease-and-desist order states that Coins Miner falsely claimed to be registered at a U.K. address, whereas the firm was in fact operating from Volgograd in Russia. It is charged with sending unsolicited emails to numerous recipients — including Texas residents — luring them to purchase investments in crypto mining programs issued by Coins Miner.
At the center of the order is a Coins Miner affiliate “Ana Julia Lara,” who is charged with falsely depicting herself as a Coinbase crypto trader, as well as misappropriating a photograph of “herself” posing with the president of crypto company Ripple.
The person in the photograph is in fact one of CryptoNewspeople’s vice presidents, and is not the Coins Miner scammer “Lara,” according to the cease-and-desist:
“Respondent Lara is telling potential investors she met the president of Ripple and [is] providing potential investors with a photograph that purports to depict her and the president of Ripple. The photograph does not depict Respondent Lara. Instead the photograph depicts a vice president at CoinTelegraph Media Group [sic].”
Third parties reporting on the matter have confusingly described the cease-and-desist order, with media outlet Finance Feeds erroneously writing that “the person identified as Lara is [editor’s emphasis added] a vice president of CoinTelegraph Media Group [sic].” CryptoNewspeople officially denies all connection with the person “Ana Julia Lara.”
Coins Miner is further charged with publishing a “phony” video that “falsely” depicts its facilities, engineers, and financial professionals, and with using “fake” photos that purport to show the interior of its office suite, but are in fact stock Internet photographs available for purchase online.
It is also charged with misappropriating a video of a Fortune journalist discussing crypto next to a superimposed Coins Miner logo. According to the TSC press release, “neither the journalist nor Fortune authorized the use of the video, which was filmed for Fortune as part of its coverage of cryptocurrencies.”
Alongside these charges of misleading and deceptive representations, the TSC deems the investments in Coins Miner to be securities, and their unregistered sale in Texas to therefore be in violation of Section 12 of the Securities Act.
TSC also issued two further cease-and-desist orders on the same day, September 18: one against “DGBK Ltd., an offshore digital “bank” that says it has developed hack-proof storage for virtual currencies”; and Ultimate Assets LLC, a “supposed crypto and foreign exchange trader.”
Earlier this month, in what appeared to be the first U.S. court to address the matter, a New York federal judge ruled that U.S. securities laws are applicable for prosecuting crypto fraud allegations.