HOUSTON – The alleged victims of a crypto-related fraud case targeting the Latino community held a rally and protest outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Houston Thursday morning.
This is a story KPRC 2 investigates first told you about in January earlier this year.
The victims in attendance were just a few of the 5,000 or more families federal investigators said were once hopeful investors.
“We are asking for justice for help to recover everything that we invested,” said Juan Cornejo.
Federal law enforcement officers said Mauricio Chavez, a landscaper turned cryptocurrency trading expert, and his partners raised more than $12 million from their alleged victims through their company CryptoFX in places like Houston, Fort Worth, New Orleans, Chicago, Waco, North Carolina, and California.
“My children, my in-laws and I invested about $180,000, and we didn’t see any return,” said Maytee Lozano in Spanish.
FIEL Executive Director Cesar Espinosa explained how it worked.
“The promise was that you would invest some money and you would get a 15% return. And maybe it worked like the first time, or the second time. But then they invented this concept of a rollover which is, get your money back in the game, so you can make more money. And this is how people were scammed. And at the end of the day, they ended up closing shop, and none of these people were paid,” Espinosa said.
An SEC complaint said the scheme started in 2020 but alleges Chavez had no background, education nor training in investments or crypto assets.
The SEC added that rather than use investor funds for Crypto trading, Chavez used it to fund his luxury lifestyle.
A hearing related to the case was held Thursday morning.
Chavez was not in attendance but those who were say they are optimistic about the judges’ decision.
“He wants to expedite this case or move it quickly and resolve it within the next couple of weeks because he says the attorney fees for both the receivership and Mr. Chavez’s attorneys are adding up very quickly and he wants to make sure that, at the end of the day, the victims get as much money as possible in return,” said Espinosa.