New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a complaint in Manhattan court against crypto companies NovaTech Ltd and AWS Mining Pty Ltd, accusing them of digital asset fraud and defrauding investors.

According to the indictment, the organizers of NovaTech and AWS Mining are accused of abusing the religious beliefs of their investors, from whom they managed to raise $1 billion over four years. Of the funds raised, only $26 million were used for trading. As for the creators of AWS Mining, they promised investors to triple their investments through cryptocurrency mining, but the company failed in 2019.

According to prosecutor Letitia James, both organizations were aimed at religious communities, with whom the criminals contacted through social networks and instant messengers. To effectively interact with Haitian immigrants, the scammers communicated with them in Creole via WhatsApp.

It turned out that NovaTech co-founders Cynthia & Eddy Petion live in Panama. Cynthia Petion proclaimed herself a “Reverend CEO,” positioning the firm as “God’s vision,” but behind the scenes she ironically referred to herself as a “zookeeper,” thereby disrespecting her followers.

The lawsuit states that NovaTech and AWS Mining operated as a pyramid scheme, offering participants bonuses for attracting new investors. Specifically, NovaTech used funds from new investors to pay “profits” to earlier participants. As a result, thousands of crypto investors lost their invested funds. James is seeking full compensation for the victims, the imposition of an administrative fine on the organizers of crypto schemes, and a ban on organizing financial activities using securities.

“These cryptocurrency companies targeted immigrant and religious groups, promising them financial freedom, but instead deprived them of their accumulated savings,” James said.

Last year, the New York Attorney General’s Office proposed introducing a new law that would expand the agency’s powers to regulate the crypto industry. James proposed imposing administrative fines of $10,000 on individuals and $100,000 on companies working with cryptocurrencies.