Instagram influencer Jay Mazini was charged on Wednesday with wire fraud for allegedly scheming and cheating his followers out of $2.5 million in Bitcoin, according to federal prosecutors.
In the federal complaint filed against him, which refers to Mazini by his given name, Jegara Igbara, he told his nearly 1 million Instagram followers to send him Bitcoin in exchange for wire transfers of cash, but then allegedly never sent the money.
When reached, Igbara's lawyer Todd Spodek declined to comment.
Igbara, who claimed to have a net worth of $33 million, offered to buy Bitcoin from his Instagram followers for more than market value, according to the complaint. To followers who agreed to send him Bitcoin, Igbara allegedly sent falsified documents that confirmed he sent a wire transfer. The wire transfers never arrived, and prosecutors allege that bank records reveal Igbara did not have sufficient funds in the account identified in the wire transfer to complete the transaction.
“As we allege, Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values. A behind-the-scenes look, however, revealed things aren’t always as they seem,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney said in a statement. “There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims. A quick search of the Interwebs today will reveal an entirely different image of this multimillion-dollar scammer.”
The complaint states Igbara’s alleged scheme took place between January and March. In a Reddit thread from December, one Reddit user asked, “Can you sue 'influencer' like Jay Mazini when they promise X amount of cash if you order X amount of product?” and generated a number of replies.
“This guy is going to end up in prison by the end of 2021...so I wouldn't worry about suing,” another Reddit user wrote. “I'm sure there will be a class action lawsuit at some point next year as well. It happens to all of them eventually, especially when they are scamming this much money.”
The complaint states that the investigation is ongoing and that Igbara is currently being held in New Jersey, making his first court appearance at an undetermined date in the Eastern District of New York.