Juan Tacuri, a 46-year-old from Florida, confessed to orchestrating an US$8.4 million Ponzi scheme involving cryptocurrency.

Tacuri, a principal promoter for the now-defunct Forcount operation, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the United States Attorney’s Office said on Wednesday.

This crime has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

As part of his plea, Tacuri will surrender nearly US$4 million in profits and property obtained through the scheme, which targeted Spanish-speaking investors. 

Tacuri’s admission of guilt is a development in the legal proceedings against Forcount, later rebranded as Weltsys.

From 2017 to 2021, the operation defrauded investors of approximately US$8.4 million, falsely promising high returns on crypto investments.

Tacuri recruited victims at various expos and events across the U.S., including in the Southern District of New York, where Judge Analisa Torres will determine his sentence.

Investors were promised that their money would double within six months through Forcount’s supposed crypto trading and mining ventures. 

In reality, these operations did not exist, and funds from new investors were used to pay earlier participants and finance the lifestyles of Tacuri and his associates, said the Department of Justice.

The online platform provided to investors tracked their “profits,” but most victims lost their entire investments as they could not withdraw any supposed earnings.

Legal actions against Tacuri’s co-promoters, Francisley Da Silva and Antonia Perez Hernandez, are ongoing, with neither having entered a plea or been found guilty. 

Tacuri’s sentencing is scheduled for late September 2024.