The SEC said Friday that the creator of the American Bitcoin Academy, an online crypto trading course, defrauded students of over $1 million by convincing them to participate in a bogus hedge fund.
Brian Sewell reportedly sought contributions for the Rockwell Fund, which would invest in digital assets using AI, from December 2017 to April 2018.
In a news release announcing the resolved case, the SEC claimed Sewell turned the money into Bitcoin, which he lost when his wallet was hacked. He also sent bogus monthly account statements to investors to conceal the fund's existence.
The agency estimated that Sewell's deception cost 15 students $1.2 million.
“Whether it’s AI, crypto, DeFi or some other buzzword, the SEC will continue to hold accountable those who claim to use attention-grabbing technologies to attract and defraud investors,” Gurbir Grewal, SEC enforcement division director, stated in the news release.
Sewell and Rockwell Capital Management settled with the regulator without admitting or rejecting the claims. The purchase cost Rockwell Capital $1.6 million and Sewell about $200,000.
The firm's media contact, Sewell, did not reply to a request for comment. According to the SEC complaint, he moved from Utah to Puerto Rico.
Following a series of digital asset instances, the agency filed the enforcement action. SEC Chair Gary Gensler has warned investors about crypto fraud several times.