SPOKANE – On Friday, Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that a grand jury returned an Indictment charging Michael Joseph McElhiney, age 37, formerly of Spokane, Washington, with thirty-three counts of fraud in connection with running a cryptocurrency investment scam theft that defrauded investors of more than $350,000 between March 2021 and September 2022.
The Indictment alleges that McElhiney defrauded investors by pretending to operate a cryptocurrency investment fund known as MAC Blockchain Solutions. The Indictment alleges that McElhiney promised prospective investors that he and his purported business partners ran a successful cryptocurrency investment fund that invested in emerging cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based projects, such as Ethereum staking and cryptocurrency liquidity pools. According to the Indictment, McElhiney promised that he would invest funds provided by investors, and manage those investments for the benefit of his clients. McElhiney promised guaranteed or variable returns depending on the supposed investment vehicle, and always promised investors that they could liquidate their investments and get their money back at any time. McElhiney then sent investors information using a platform called Coin.FYI that purported to track the progress of their investments. In actuality, the Indictment alleges, McElhiney never invested the funds provided by investors, but instead kept the funds for his own personal use, and the purported Coin.FYI accounts that McElhiney showed investors did not correspond to any actual investment funds but instead were fabricated figures intended to convince investors that McElhiney had invested their funds and that the investments were appreciating in value. The Indictment alleges that McElhiney defrauded investors of more than $350,000 in this manner, including defrauding investors not only of cash but rare art and precious metals.
“Cryptocurrency fraud is a new variation on the same old song and dance of investment fraud,” said United States Attorney Waldref. “Whether it’s cryptocurrency fraud, multilevel pyramid scams, real estate scams, old-fashioned Ponzi schemes, or other investment fraud vehicles, we will work closely with our law enforcement partners to hold fraudsters accountable when they prey on innocent members of the community in order to line their own pockets.”
The fraud charges carry maximum sentences of up to 30 years in federal prison. This case was investigated by Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Spokane Resident Agency, and by the Spokane Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Fruchter and Tyler Tornabene are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.