AriseBank CEO Jared Rice Sr. was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday, charged with duping hundreds of investors out of more than $4 million in a cryptocurrency scheme, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Mr. Rice, who is also the subject of a civil action filed by the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office earlier this year, was indicted on three counts of securities fraud and three counts of wire fraud.
According to court documents unsealed today, Mr. Rice, 30, allegedly lied to would-be investors, claiming that AriseBank – which he billed as the world’s “first decentralized banking platform” based on a proprietary digital currency called AriseCoin – could offer consumers FDIC-insured accounts and traditional banking services, including Visa-brand credit and debit cards, in addition to cryptocurrency services. In actuality, AriseBank had not been authorized to conduct banking in Texas, was not FDIC insured, and did not have any sort of partnership with Visa.
Even as he touted AriseBank’s nonexistent benefits in press releases and online, Mr. Rice quietly converted investor funds for his own personal use, spending the money on hotels, food, clothing, a family law attorney, and even a guardian ad litem.
He allegedly falsely claimed the “Initial Coin Offering,” or ICO, had raised $600 million within just a few weeks and failed to disclose that he’d plead guilty to state felony charges in connection with a prior internet-related business scheme. Meanwhile, investors were buying AriseCoin using digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and fiat currency.
“My office is committed to enforcing the rule of law in the cryptocurrency space,” said Nealy Cox. “The Northern District of Texas will not tolerate this sort of flagrant deception – online or off.”
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law. If convicted, Mr. Rice faces up to 120 years in federal prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Walters and Sid Mody are prosecuting the case.