Texas' securities watchdog has issued an emergency cease-and-desist order to a purported cryptocurrency investment scheme that it says tried to dupe investors with fake endorsements from high-profile individuals.
Among other alleged failings, Houston-based Wind Wide Coin is said to have fabricated client profiles using images of public figures including actress Jennifer Aniston, Prince Charles and former Finland prime minister Matti Vanhanen to gain attention for its products.
One detail provided in the Texas State Security Board order further gives the effort a somewhat ridiculous air, with the agency stating that the scheme gave alternative names to the purported clients, labeling Jennifer Aniston as "Kate Jennifer" and Prince Charles as "Mark Robert."
The order accuses the firm and three individuals of claiming to be licensed in the state, when in fact that was not the case; of selling unregistered securities; of misleading investors with fraudulent claims and withholding information.
Among the claims made by the company, as provided by the Texas State Securities Board in evidence, the firm allegedly claimed that income from the investment scheme is "100 percent sure" and that clients "can't lose money," adding that "there is no risk."
Wind Wide Coin was "illegally, deceptively and fraudulently offering investments" in Texas, Joseph Rotunda, director of enforcement at the Texas State Securities Board, told CoinDesk in an email.
The order concludes that the firm must immediately cease and desist from selling unregistered securities and conducting fraud in Texas.
"Today's action is a reminder that, step by step and case by case, we've been uncovering a virtual playbook of tactics employed by promoters of illegal and fraudulent cryptocurrency investment programs," Rotunda said.
The case marks yet another action by the state's securities regulator, as it moves to protect investors from fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes.
Earlier this month, two bitcoin investment schemes were also issued cease-and-desists by the Securities Board for allegedly selling unregistered securities.
One of the orders was aimed at cryptocurrency cloud mining scheme BTCRUSH for reportedly promising Texas-based investors 4.1 percent daily interest from their investment in the program, irrespective of the mining profitability of cryptocurrencies.
Jennifer Aniston image via Shutterstock
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