Besides spending 21 months in jail, will also have to forfeit profits amounting to $80,600 that he generated illicitly. The profits are linked to wire fraud related to land.
Per the sentencing memorandum, Morgan defrauded individuals by selling land he didn’t own. According to Forbes, Morgan only owned 4.9 acres in Nevada but by July last year, he had sold 18 acres. The land was located in Nevada’s Elko County, where Morgan promised a mega city where Bitcoin would be legal tender.
Bitcoin utopia turns to dystopia for victims
Morgan advertised the purported land development through social media and on his now-defunct website Bitcointopia.org. The parcels of land ranged in size from one to three acres. Prices ranged between 0.5 BTC and 1.5 BTC.
1 Acre – 0.5 BTChttps://t.co/01VBLO3vwP
2 Acres – 1.0 BTChttps://t.co/tAHD2DCUvF
3 Acres – 1.5 BTChttps://t.co/Z8ZW40qdMy
Email your name & TXID to [email protected] to buy your very own acreage today!
— Bitcointopia (@Bitcointopia) October 19, 2018
The Nevadan allegedly bought the 4.9 acres at a price of $877 per acre. This translates to over 260 percent profit on the land he actually owned. At the time of his arrest on October 29, 2018, bitcoin was trading at around $6,400. An acre would, therefore, have been selling at about $3,200.
According to the sentencing memorandum, there were at least ten people who paid but never received the promised title deeds.
Mega – make elko great again!
The Nevadan also promised that the purported real estate development would create millions of jobs. Morgan, who tweets under the handle @NODEfather, even touted this fact in a reply to Donald Trump tweet. This was after the U.S. president visited Elko last year during the midterms campaigns. Morgan was arrested nine days later.
Thanks for coming to Elko, we are building a brand new MegaCity here that will provide millions of jobs for Americans in the immediate future thanks to Bitcoin, AI and Nevada. @Bitcointopia @CydoniaCity
— Morgan (@NODEfather) October 21, 2018
Per the sentencing memorandum, Morgan’s unlicensed money transmitting business saw over 1,000 transactions during its existence. It was mainly a peer-to-peer service based in California.
At the height of its success, Morgan was San Diego’s most prolific bitcoin seller and trader. The business was also highly lucrative as for every transaction Morgan charged commissions of up to 36 per cent.
Bitcoin fraud victims refuse character witness role. duh!
As recently as last month Morgan was looking forward to being set free. In a tweet sent on April 19, Morgan appealed for character witnesses arguing it would boost his chances of freedom.
I am requesting a letter to be written to Honorable Judge Bataglia in my case. If you can write a letter of support as a character witness, coworker, friend it would greatly help me to gain freedom once again and show what kind of person i am within your opinion & memories of me.
— Morgan (@NODEfather) April 19, 2019
Unsurprisingly there was very little sympathy offered following the appeal. Some, probably victims or just jokers, demand a refund before they could write Judge Anthony J. Battaglia defending Morgan’s character!
If I can get my bitcoin back from bitcointopia, I’ll write one.
— Puffy ⚡️ (@CryptoPuffy) April 19, 2019