Coinseed, a cryptocurrency trading company based in New York City, was ordered to shut down following an investigation into the app’s fraudulent investment charges.
Carried out by New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, the multi-year investigation ended Monday after Coinseed was found to be un-registered and trading cryptocurrencies on users’ accounts without their knowledge.
“For years, Coinseed and its CEO have engaged in egregious and fraudulent activities that have cheated investors out of millions,” Letitia James said in an official statement following the lengthy investigation. “In defiance of court orders, this company has continued to operate illegally and unethically, holding investors’ funds hostage and underscoring the dangers of investing in unregistered virtual currencies.”
Coinseed was also ordered to pay $3 million in damages to defrauded investors, which is still a fraction of the $18.5 that Bitfinex was forced to pay earlier this year.
James’ office found that Bitfinex and Coinseed were bilking investors, and lying to them about their app’s practices with their crypto currency. Since Coinseed’s tokens acted as the same practice as selling securities, James argued that they were also in the wrong by not registering as a broker-dealer, where their activity could be more easily regulated.
“When platforms operating illegally in New York seek to trade on investors’ money, we will use every tool at our disposal to stop their unlawful actions,” James said. “We will not allow rogue operators to hold innocent investors’ funds hostage while they deplete accounts and transfer virtual currency to an offshore, unregulated trading platform.”
According to the lawsuit, Coinseed grew to include somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 active investors, with around $50,000 worth of daily transactions occurring on their platform. The Attorney General’s office reportedly received over 170 complaints about Coinseed from angry investors over the course of the investigation.
Many users complained that all of sudden their crypto balances were being converted into dogecoin without their knowledge or permission. One complaint alleged that a balance of $48,000 in various crypto currencies all became $31,000 in dogecoin overnight.
Coinseed CEO Delgerdalai Davaasambuu released a since-deleted statement after the announcement that accused the Attorney General’s office of threatening to close them down if they didn’t pay thousands of dollars to throw out the investigation.
He also claimed that the office harassed his company for years, and that many cryptocurrency sites are not registered as broker-dealers in the state of New York. At the time, Bitifex and Tether also admitted to no wrong doing.
“They know that they can bully us because we can’t spend millions of dollars in legal fights,” Davaasambuu said. He called Letitia James a “business-abuser,” and said that he planned to move Coinseed to a more “crypto-friendly state.”
“Run away from New York if you are running a crypto business there,” he said, calling the shutdown, “immensely mournful and frustrating.”
In the investigation, many complaints also questioned CEO Delgerdalai Davaasambuu’s professional background, alleging that aspects of his expertise where fraudulent, as well.
“Please annoy the NYAG [New York Attorney General] as much as you can,” Davaasambuu later posted on the Coinbase website, which has since been taken down.
He is also promoting an advertisement for a release of a “F*** Letita James” token, a rude gesture that also incorrectly spells the Attorney General’s name.
“This order appoints a court-appointed receiver before any other investments are squandered by Coinseed and its CEO,” James said. “Unregulated and fraudulent virtual currency entities, no matter how big or small, will no longer be tolerated in New York.”