El Paso Man Receives 7 Year Sentence for Ponzi Scheme Disguised as Crypto Investment Firm
Abner Tinoco, a 27-year-old resident of El Paso, has been sentenced to 84 months (7 years) in federal prison for his involvement in a wire fraud scheme, as confirmed by court documents.
Tinoco operated a Ponzi scheme through his business, where he solicited millions of dollars in investments from clients. He claimed these funds would be invested in cryptocurrency and foreign exchange markets. However, according to the investigation, out of approximately $9 million worth of investments deposited into his business accounts, Tinoco spent over half on personal expenses, which included luxury cars, private jets, real estate, and jewelry. To further the deception, Tinoco provided some of the misappropriated funds to his clients as profits.
U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas stated, “This defendant manufactured a predatory scheme, investing less than half a percent of funds from over a dozen victims who trusted him with millions of dollars in investments. We will continue to strongly prosecute rapacious fraudsters who take advantage of unsuspecting victims while also holding the defendants responsible for those victims’ lost funds.”
Special Agent in Charge John S. Morales for the FBI El Paso Field Office commented, “The defendant orchestrated an elaborate cryptocurrency investment fraud scheme that caused extensive financial harm to unsuspecting victims. The FBI El Paso’s Complex Financial Crimes Task Force will continue to investigate and seek justice for individuals who fall victim to criminals who cheat and lie their way into victims’ pockets for the sole purpose of taking their hard-earned income for their own personal gain.”
In a separate civil case related to this scheme, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) obtained a civil consent decree against Tinoco and his business, imposing a ban on their trading activities. The Department of Justice is working to secure additional restitution for the victims of Tinoco’s fraudulent activities. A restitution hearing is scheduled to be held in 2024.
The investigation into this case was conducted by the FBI.