Centra Tech’s initial coin offering (ICO), once highly sought after by eager and often inexperienced investors, has been mired in controversy since US regulators charged its founders with fraud over fake connections to Visa and Mastercard.

The ICO was endorsed by boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, a move some see as a low blow aimed to demonstrate to people who weren’t crypto-savvy that a figure they respected was investing in a cryptocurrency.

For those unwilling to educate themselves on the technology or delve into the white paper, that was all they needed, and both Mayweather and DJ Khaled are seen as essentially having betrayed their fans by encouraging them to buy into the alleged scam through social media.

Two of the project’s co-founders were arrested and charged with fraud earlier this month, and crypto exchange Binance denounced the company and delisted its CTR token following the news. The founders essentially raised $32 million on what looked like a complete fabrication.

“We allege that Centra sold investors on the promise of new digital technologies by using a sophisticated marketing campaign to spin a web of lies about their supposed partnerships with legitimate businesses. As the complaint alleges, these and other claims were simply false.”

Stephanie Avakian in
SEC's Division of Enforcement

A third co-founder, called Ray Trapani, was recently arrestedand charged with a number of criminal offenses by the US Department of Justice, including securities fraud, and wire fraud of over $25 million, as well as conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

“As alleged, Raymond Trapani conspired with his co-defendants to lure investors with false claims about their product and about relationships they had with credible financial institutions. While investing in virtual currencies is legal, lying to deceive investors is not.”

Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami in

With federal, criminal, and civil charges filed against all three, it remains to be seen what punishment will be meted out. Regardless, many in the community are glad to see one of the many scam ICOs face some form of justice for capitalizing on the lax laws and regulations currently in place to defraud investors, something that may well come to an end as stricter ICO regulations are outlined around the world.