Instagram influencer Jegara Igbara, also known as Jay Mazini, has been accused by federal investigators of defrauding his followers out of millions of dollars in Bitcoin.
The FBI allege that Igbara used his social media profile to entice his followers into selling him their Bitcoin at "attractive, but inflated, values,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr.
However, the investigators claim, there was nothing philanthropic about the defendant’s actions. “In reality, Igbara never sent the money, and stole at least $2.5 million worth of Bitcoin from victims,” said the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in a statement.
Igbara acquired nearly one million Instagram followers by posting videos in which he handed out large amounts of cash to random people. Somewhere around January this year he started offering to buy Bitcoin from his followers “at prices 3.5% to 5% over market value.”
Igbara claimed that he was willing to pay more because of the limits the cryptocurrency exchanges have on the amount of Bitcoin their customers can purchase. When people reached out to Igbara, he provided them with screenshots of purported wire transfer confirmations.
The victims then sent him the agreed amounts of Bitcoin, but, say investigators, the promised money never arrived—leading the authorities to conclude that the screenshots were fraudulent.
According to court documents, one of the followers allegedly sent Igbara as much as $750,000 in BTC. Apart from Instagram, the defendant has been active on several other social media platforms, including Twitter.
Igbara, whose Instagram account has been deleted, is currently being held on state charges in New Jersey and will appear in federal court in New York at a later date. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years behind bars.