There will be no more BitConnect class-action lawsuits in April 2020 after a District Court Judge threw them out. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal on February 18th, after the dismissal was appealed.Eleventh Circuit’s summation of the case A class action lawsuit was filed by investors after the collapse of BitConnect to hold BitConnect’s promoters responsible for encouraging the acquisition of unregistered securities.
Because the Securities Act only applies to sales pitches to specific individuals, the marketers argue that they are immune from liability. Ultimately, the District Court decided in favor of the defendants and threw out the case. In contrast, the Eleventh Circuit called the defendants’ bluff.
That kind of restriction is not imposed by either the Securities Act or our precedent. Arguments like “but cryptocurrencies!” are frequently used by con artists. This is a question I’ve always answered with “there are no exemptions for bitcoin in the Securities and Exchange Act.” If you don’t specifically promote unregistered securities to anyone, you’re still engaging in securities fraud. There’s no exception.
Online videos are simply a new medium for what has traditionally been done via mass communication: solicitation. We reverse the district court’s rejection of the Section 12 claim because the Securities Act gives no free pass for internet solicitations. There are two crucial points to keep in mind when it comes to this situation: First and foremost, the BitConnect class-action lawsuit has been reinstated. As a result, we reverse the district court’s rejection of the section 12 claim against Arcaro and Maasen, vacate its dismissal of the state-law claims against them, and affirm its dismissal of any other claims and defendants in the orders appealed.
There are new charges against Glenn Arcaro and Ryan Maasen, according to reports. One of BitConnect’s top net winners and promoters in the United States, Arcaro, is an attractive target. On the other hand, the DOJ and the SEC, on the other hand, are railing against him, so I’m not sure whether there’s anything left for class-action plaintiffs.
There is no hope for Maasen, as the SEC is also after him. It’s also vital to analyze what this appeal means for YouTubers who advocate Ponzi schemes (pyramid schemes are not securities). This is an example of a United States Court of Appeals instructing victims of a Ponzi scam that they can sue anyone who promoted it.
Arcaro maintains that a vendor is liable only if he or she directs a solicitation to a specific buyer. His perspective is that mass media is never enough. Those that advertise risky investments through modern communication channels like this one would greatly benefit from this new legislation. They have difficulties because the Securities Act does not distinguish between narrowly focused sales activities and widely dispersed proposals. It is illegal to sell an unregistered security in interstate commerce using “any means or instruments of transportation or communication in interstate commerce.” Congress does not define “personal” or “individualized” solicitations in those categories, as the district court here did. The Act, on the other hand, argues the contrary.
Ponzi scheme promoters on social media, such as YouTube, can be held accountable for the losses of their victims, whether or not they recruited them directly into the Ponzi scheme. It’s also worth noting that the claim that “this is not financial advice” is untrue. Promoters of unregistered securities who state that phrase are also not immune from the Securities and Exchange Act (or, in fact, any phrase). It would be legal to walk into a bank and declare “this is not a robbery” before robbing it if it were that simple. It is not. A disclaimer on social media is none of these things.
Platforms like YouTube themselves are a minor concern when it comes to liability. For now, I’m doing it alone because the Eleventh Circuit hasn’t addressed this issue yet. In essence, YouTube is a video counterpart to text-based forums like MoneyMakerGroup. After a wire fraud investigation, MoneyMakerGroup abruptly went out of business in 2017. MoneyMakerGroup’s stock remained depressed despite the denials of the charges.
It is possible that MoneyMakerGroup has spiritual heirs, the most notable of which is BeerMoneyForum. Who knows? BeerMoneyForum may or may not be shut down in the same way. long enough to be a significant honeypot of information. One that will only become more valuable to the US government over time. YouTube, on the other hand, and other social media platforms, in my opinion, differ in that they are not solely there to promote fraud. However, they are at risk if victims of Ponzi schemes can show YouTube’s incompetence.
However, this creates a dilemma, as victims of a Ponzi scheme will not disclose their plight until after the fact. When you see it, it says, “But I’m getting mad!” They will simply vanish after the Ponzi scheme has collapsed, since foolish investors have no other choice but to do so (being paid in your backoffice! = withdrawals). In the event that a scam goes bust, people who reported it on YouTube are unlikely to follow up.
No matter how little attention YouTube receives, it cannot be said that it does nothing. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to hold YouTube responsible for a Ponzi scheme collapse if you didn’t do anything before it happened. In a perfect world, companies like YouTube would crack down on scam-related violations of their TOS. That doesn’t seem plausible given the platforms’ dimensions.
US securities fraud warnings, like those in other nations, could be a potential remedy. In order to do so, however, the United States would have to change the way it regulates securities fraud. Currently, US authorities do not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation until they take public action. I don’t expect it to change any time soon, so I’m guessing that things will remain the same until a persuasive argument is made in court. You can still sue renowned YouTubers who advocate fraud if you’re a civilian, though.
As of today, nothing new has been added to the BitConnect class-action docket. I’ll keep an eye on it for any new developments.