The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against a Quebec firm that deals in a cryptocurrency called PlexCoin.
Quebec-based Dominic Lacroix and Sabrina Paradis-Royer, along with a firm called PlexCorp, have been charged with violating U.S. securities laws and defrauding investors, according to a new filing dated Dec. 1.
The U.S. securities regulator claims thousands of investors lost an estimated $15 million US in the initial coin offering.
It is the first filing by the SEC's Cyber Unit, an enforcement arm created in September in part to more closely police initial coin offerings which have become popular with the soaring value of Bitcoin.
"This first cyber unit case hits all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam and is exactly the kind of misconduct the unit will be pursuing. We acted quickly to protect retail investors from this initial coin offering's false promises," Robert Cohen, who heads up the unit, said of the charges.
The agency alleged that Lacroix and Paradis-Royer made false statements to prospective investors.
It obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of PlexCorps and the two individuals.
In July, the Financial Markets Administrative Tribunal of Quebec banned PlexCorps and Lacroix from all investment-related activities targeted at Quebec residents.
In October, Quebec's Superior Court declared the company and Lacroix in contempt of court, finding the defendants continued to market and solicit investments in PlexCorps.