U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23090 / September 22, 2014
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Trendon T. Shavers and Bitcoin Savings and Trust, Civil Action No. Civil Action No. 4:13-CV-416
Final Judgment Entered Against Trendon T. Shavers, A/K/A/ "Pirateat40" - Operator of Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme Ordered to Pay More Than $40 Million in Disgorgement and Penalties
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that, on September 18, 2014, a United States District Court in Sherman, Texas entered final judgment against Trendon T. Shavers and Bitcoin Savings and Trust ("BTCST"), the online entity Shavers created and used to operate his Ponzi scheme, and through which he defrauded investors out of more than 700,000 bitcoins. The Court's judgment requires Shavers and BTCST to pay more than $40 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, and orders each Defendant to pay a civil penalty of $150,000.
The Commission established, and the Court found, that from February 2011 through August 2012, Shavers offered and sold investments in BTCST over the internet. Shavers solicited all investments, and paid all purported returns, in bitcoins. Operating under the internet name, "pirateat40," Shavers solicited investors in online chat rooms and on the Bitcoin Forum, an online forum dedicated to Bitcoin, promising them up to 7% returns weekly based on his claimed trading of bitcoin against the U.S. dollar, including selling bitcoins to individuals who wanted to buy them "off the radar." In reality, Shavers used new bitcoins received from BTCST investors to pay purported returns on outstanding BTCST investments, and diverted BTCST investors' bitcoins for his personal use. The Court further found that, even as he publicly denied the Ponzi scheme on the Bitcoin Forum, Shavers knowingly and intentionally operated BTCST as a sham and a Ponzi scheme, and repeatedly made materially false and misleading representations to BTCST investors and potential investors concerning the use of their bitcoins, how he would generate the promised returns, and the safety of their investments.
The Court's judgment permanently enjoins Shavers and BTCST from future violations of Sections 5 and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder; orders them to disgorge, on a joint and several basis, $39,638,569, plus $1,766,098 prejudgment interest thereon, for a total of $40,404,667; and orders Shavers and BTCST each to pay a $150,000 penalty.