Bitcoin Ponzi operator pleads guilty over $150M fraud

Bitcoin Savings & Trust founder Trendon Shavers pleaded guilty to fraud over his company's Ponzi scheme, whose victims believed they would earn one percent interest every three days — an annual rate of 3,641 percent.

Shavers used new depositors' money to pay the existing depositors, and skimmed enough cream to pay for a car, a $1000 Vegas steak dinner, and (naturally) a lot of casino gambling.

He cost his depositors about $150M and was holding onto $40.7M in Bitcoin when he was arrested. At his peak, he controlled about 7 percent of all Bitcoins in circulation. He netted $164,758 from the scheme.

"I know what I did was wrong, and I'm very sorry," Shavers said in court.

Under a plea deal, Shavers has agreed not to appeal any sentence at or below 41 months in prison. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Shavers, who went by "pirateat40" online, was arrested in November, two months after a federal judge in Texas ordered him to pay $40.7 million in a related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil lawsuit.

Bitcoin Ponzi scheme operator pleads guilty to securities fraud
[Nick Statt/The Verge]

(Image: Global Bitcoin, CodyHofstetter, CC-BY-SA)