William Ichioka Sentenced to 4 Years for Crypto Investment Fraud Scheme

News | June 13, 2024 By:

On Tuesday, June 11, 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California announced that William Koo Ichioka had been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco for his role in a fraudulent investment scheme. Ichioka received a four-year prison term and was ordered to pay a $5 million fine by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria.

Ichioka, 30, had pled guilty last July to five felony charges related to the scheme, including wire fraud, tax fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud. Court documents state that from 2018-2019, Ichioka solicited investments through his company “Ichioka Ventures” by promising returns of 10% every 30 days from trading in cryptocurrencies, securities, and other assets. He obtained over $21 million from more than 100 victims during this period.

However, Ichioka actually lost money from the portions he did invest and instead spent victim funds on personal luxuries. He admitted to commingling investor money with his own and using the amounts to purchase high-end vehicles, watches, and jewelry, and cover living expenses rather than making legitimate trades. By late 2019, Ichioka privately acknowledged that the “[c]ompany hasn’t made any money since we started.”

To continue the fraud, Ichioka also repaid earlier investors using new investment amounts in a Ponzi-like structure. As part of his guilty plea, Ichioka stated he owes at least $21 million to non-family investors and over $40 million to victimized family members who contributed funds.

During the scheme, Ichioka concealed the fraud by providing falsified financial records and account balances to investors through the Ichioka Ventures website. He also failed to supply proper tax documentation and did not report any income to the IRS. Judge Chhabria’s sentence recognized the serious and widespread harm caused by Ichioka’s deception.

Following his prison term, Ichioka must complete five years of supervised release and attend a future restitution hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Cheng and Benjamin Kingsley prosecuted the case, which resulted from coordinated investigations by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation arm. Parallel probes were also performed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

In a statement, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Robbins warned that federal prosecutors will aggressively pursue those perpetrating cryptocurrency or investment fraud. FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Tripp stated Ichioka’s scheme hurt over 100 victims and vowed continued pursuit of financial criminals. IRS Criminal Investigation’s Michael Mosley said justice was served through interagency teamwork on the case.