A South African citizen and two U.S. nationals are among the five individuals charged in Miami for manipulating the HYDRO virtual asset created by the Hydrogen Technology Corporation.
The other two are being charged in a different indictment for their role in the HYDRO manipulation scheme filed in Florida’s Southern District.
Miami to charge five individuals in $2 million HYDRO manipulation scheme
Miami court documents dated from June 2018 to April 2019 show that George Wolvaardt, 38, of Johannesburg, South Africa, Shane Hampton, 31, of Philadelphia, and Michael Kane, 38, of Miami, collaborated to manipulate the market of HYDRO.
The trio also defrauded traders by creating false supply and demand appearances to make the traders transact the token at quantities, prices, and frequency that were otherwise impossible. HYDRO is a token on the Ethereum blockchain platform the Hydrogen Technology Corporation created.
The suspects used a trading bot that supplied spoof orders they did not intend to execute. The bot also placed thousands of wash trades where it sold and bought tokens for itself using the same account. The defendants supposedly gained $2 million in profit through inflated HYDRO sales.
Michael Kane was CEO and co-founder of Hydrogen Technology, and Shane Hampton the chief of financial engineering of the company. Wolvaardt was the chief technology officer for the self-proclaimed “market-making” company Moonwalkers Trading Limited, which designed and developed the trading bot and was hired by Kane and Hampton to manipulate the HYDRO market.
A blockchain engineer at Hydrogen Technology, Andrew Chorlian of New York, and the former CEO of Moonwalkers, Coos Bay of Oregon, were charged for involvement in the scheme.
SEC had sued Hydrogen Corporation over market manipulation and won the over $2 million case on April 21.
Defendants may face five year sentence if convicted
The FBI is investigating the case. Andrew Jaco, the trial attorney; Eric Morales, assistant U.S. attorney from the Southern District of Florida; and Scott Armstrong, assistant chief from the criminal division’s fraud section, are prosecuting the case.
Kane, Wolvaardt, and Hampton are each charged with conspiracies to securities price manipulation crimes, two counts of wire fraud, and a single conspiracy to wire fraud. If found guilty, each will face a five-year sentence on the securities price manipulation conspiracy counts and 20 years in prison for the other crimes.
Chorlian and Ostern are each charged with single conspiracies to price manipulation crimes and wire fraud. If found guilty, they each will serve a five-year sentence in prison.
In this case, the Department of Justice calls upon anyone who believes they are a victim to email [email protected] or contact the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness Unit toll-free at (888) 549-3945.