In a significant development, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against the creators and key executives of the once-popular SafeMoon cryptocurrency project. Simultaneously, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken action, arresting SafeMoon CEO John Karony and Chief Technology Officer Thomas Smith. These actions come as a response to alleged fraudulent activities associated with the SafeMoon project.
Today we charged SafeMoon LLC, its creator Kyle Nagy, SafeMoon US LLC, and the companies’ CEO, John Karony, and Chief Technology Officer, Thomas Smith, for perpetrating a massive fraudulent scheme through the unregistered sale of the crypto asset security, SafeMoon.
— U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (@SECGov) November 1, 2023
Unfulfilled Promises and Deceptive Practices
SafeMoon, initially known for its endorsement by social media influencers, failed to maintain a stable trading price and lacked any meaningful use case or development efforts. This prompted a wave of backlash from disillusioned investors.
— U.S. Attorney DC (@USAO_DC) November 1, 2023
U.S. Attorney Breon Peace stated, “As alleged, the defendants deliberately misled investors and diverted millions of dollars to fuel their greedy scheme and enrich themselves by purchasing a custom Porsche sports car, other luxury vehicles, and real estate.”
Manipulative Trading Practices
Furthermore, the SEC discovered that SafeMoon‘s key executives resorted to practices such as wash trading to artificially boost the value of SafeMoon’s native token, SFM, in an attempt to attract new investors.
This extensive investigation into SafeMoon was initiated in February of the previous year. It followed a class-action lawsuit that implicated social media celebrities, including Nick Carter, Soulja Boy, Lil Yachty, Jake Paul, and Ben Phillips, for their role in promoting SafeMoon.
Pump and Dump Allegations
The lawsuit targeted both the SafeMoon project team and its promoters. Plaintiffs alleged that these parties engaged in a “pump and dump” strategy, intentionally inflating the token’s value to profit at the expense of retail investors.
The SEC‘s actions and the DOJ’s arrests represent a significant step in addressing alleged fraudulent practices within the crypto space, particularly concerning meme coins like SafeMoon that gained popularity through social media endorsements. These developments highlight the importance of investor protection and regulatory oversight in the cryptocurrency industry.