Crypto promoter unmasked, accused of fraud in luring investors via YouTube

Federal investigators have unmasked a cryptocurrency pitchman who dons a Guy Fawkes disguise in his YouTube video, charging him with wire fraud.

Patrick McDonnell, 46, of New York City, is accused in a wire fraud indictment filed in Brooklyn Federal Court last week, the New York Post reports.

“McDonnell used smoke and mirrors to allegedly dupe investors into paying his company, CabbageTech, for advice and strategies on cryptocurrency trading,” said Postal Inspection Service Agent Philip Bartlett in a news release announcing McDonnell’s arrest.

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The 40-minute YouTube video allegedly shows McDonnell in a Guy Fawkes mask -- associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous -- pitching investors as he talks about virtual cash like Bitcoin, the Post reported.

Prosecutors said McDonnell used bogus bank statements to inform investors that their virtual currency investments were doing well, according to the paper.

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They also alleged that the money he obtained from investors was spent for his personal use, the Post reported.

The indictment alleges CabbageTech operated a website using the name Coin Drop Markets and that he scammed investors out of U.S. currency and virtual currency like Bitcoin and Litecoin.

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McDonnell pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday. He was ordered detained without bail.

Last year a judge ordered McDonnell to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution and civil penalties in a crypto fraud lawsuit brought by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Staten Island Advance reported.