Rapper TI named in federal investigation of cryptocurrency fraud

Rapper TI named in federal investigation of cryptocurrency fraud

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2018 file photo, T.I. attends the Roc Nation pre-Grammy brunch in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

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ATLANTA — An Atlanta film producer has been indicted on federal charges connected to a cryptocurrency investment scheme. He’s accused of raising millions from investors and spending the money on personal items and using several others including Atlanta rapper T.I. to help promote his business.

The U.S. Attorneys office says Ryan Felton misled investors who thought they were funding an entertainment streaming platform and a new cryptocurrency.

Prosecutors say Felton instead used that money for personal use including a $1.5 million home, and a 2007 Ferrari that he paid $180,000 cash for.

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Felton also posed as a potential investor using fake names on internet forums and social media to build excitement for his business and after the initial coin offering he sold thousands of coins on secondary crypto-markets to artificially inflate prices, prosecutors say.

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A separate Securities and Exchange Commission investigation found rapper/actor Clifford Harris Jr., also known as T.I., promoted Felton’s unregistered and fraudulent coin offerings.

The SEC found Harris offered and sold tokens on his social media accounts and made false claims about being a co-owner of Felton’s company and encouraged his followers to invest.

Harris, his social media manager William Sparks Jr., and two Atlanta residents, Chance White and Owen Smith, promoted the tokens without disclosing they received compensation in return, the report says.

The SEC complaint against Harris and the others is not criminal but does carry penalties. Harris is required to pay $75,000 in a civil penalty and he is not to participate in the sale of digital-asset securities for the next five years.

The case against Felton is criminal and is now being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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