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Avi Eisenberg’s $110m crypto fraud trial gets rescheduled

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Avi Eisenberg’s $110m crypto fraud trial gets rescheduled

The trial for Avi Eisenberg, the crypto trader accused of a $110 million fraud, has been pushed back to April 2024. The trial was initially scheduled to kick off next month.

Originally set to commence on Dec. 8, Eisenberg’s trial has faced delays due to several factors. His legal team requested additional time to prepare, citing the case’s complexity involving unique legal and factual issues related to crypto-native concepts. 

Eisenberg’s lawyers sought extra preparation time, highlighting the intricate and unprecedented legal challenges posed by the alleged fraud. Unlike conventional fraud cases, Eisenberg’s plan involved complicated cryptocurrency ideas, making it harder for both the prosecution and defense to handle the case.

A complex legal battle  

Legal analysts draw parallels between the complexity of Eisenberg’s case and that of disgraced crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried, whose verdict is currently scheduled for March 28.

The government agreed to postpone the trial until April 8, 2024, a decision approved by the judge on Nov. 4, 2023. Eisenberg is accused of commodities manipulation and wire fraud, specifically for deploying a highly profitable trading strategy against the Solana-based Mango Markets in October 2022. 

The trial, taking place in the Southern District of New York, was originally moving swiftly until late October when Eisenberg was transferred from a federal jail in New Jersey to the more restrictive Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. This move disrupted the defense team’s preparations for the Dec. 8 trial, surprising both sides and prompting the joint decision to postpone the proceedings until April 2024.

Analysts believe the delay will afford Eisenberg’s defense the time needed to navigate the case’s complexities and develop a strong strategy. 

Meanwhile, the prosecution, led by seasoned attorneys, is anticipated to intensify efforts to build a compelling case against the accused crypto trader.

With the legal battle unfolding, experts expect heightened scrutiny due to the case’s unprecedented nature. The outcome of Eisenberg’s trial could establish a precedent for future crypto-related fraud cases, marking a pivotal moment in the convergence of cryptocurrency and the legal system.

Crypto fraudsters not slowing down 

Recent headlines have highlighted the surge in cryptocurrency fraud and manipulation. Reports indicate that fraudsters are capitalizing on the crypto frenzy, with a majority of reported losses stemming from investment scams initiated on social media platforms.

In November, Bankman-Fried was convicted of fraud — a case described by federal prosecutors as one of the most significant financial frauds in U.S. history. Bankman-Fried was found guilty of embezzling customer funds and using FTX funds to cover losses at Alameda.

In May, North Korean bad actors and hacking groups stole a total of $721 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies from Japan since the crypto summer of 2017.

In February, around the time of crypto trader Eisenberg’s arrest, the Crypto Crime Report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis revealed that the volume of crime-related transactions surged for the second consecutive year, reaching a record high of $20.6 billion. 

Despite this alarming increase, it accounts for less than 1% of the total cryptocurrency market volume. In 2022, crypto thieves had their most successful year, with approximately $3.8 billion stolen, surpassing any previous year’s losses. Notably, $775.7 million was pilfered in October alone.

Interestingly, the report highlights a decline in the total revenue earned by scammers and ransomware hackers. The majority of the stolen funds, around 82.1%, were taken from decentralized finance (defi) protocols, particularly cross-chain bridges. 

These bridges, allowing users to trade assets between different blockchains, became attractive targets for hackers due to the vast centralized repositories of funds within their smart contracts. The report underscores the significant challenges faced by the cryptocurrency ecosystem in combating these sophisticated attacks.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been proactive in filing charges against individuals and companies involved in crypto asset securities fraud, investor deception, and unauthorized and deceptive securities offerings.