NEWARK–Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced that the Bureau of Securities (the “Bureau”) issued a Cease and Desist Order to stop an investment scheme purportedly powered by artificial intelligence and endorsed by Elon Musk. The website for TruthGPT Coin has since been taken down. The Bureau issued the enforcement action in coordination with several states bringing actions against Horatiu Charlie Caragaceanu and his organizations, The Shark of Wall Street and Hedge4.ai (collectively, “Respondents”).
Caragaceanu describes The Shark of Wall Street and Hedge4.ai as “artificial intelligence labs” that act through “machine learning programmers and ethical hackers.” According to the Cease and Desist Order, Respondents are promoting TruthGPT Coin, a cryptocurrency that purportedly uses an artificial intelligence model called Elon Musk AI. This artificial intelligence model is purportedly able to analyze various cryptocurrencies, predict future digital asset prices, and differentiate profitable investments from scams. The Respondents are also touting the profitability of TruthGPT Coin – even claiming that TruthGPT Coin will increase in value by as much as 1,000 times.
According to the Cease and Desist Order, the Respondents are misrepresenting Elon Musk’s endorsement of TruthGPT Coin, and they are manipulating animated avatars and images of Elon Musk to falsely demonstrate his endorsement. It is further alleged that their promotional media falsley shows the involvement of various other public figures. For example, as alleged,TruthGPT Coin’s website is misleadingly designed to create the illusion that Changpeng “CZ” Zhao (the founder and CEO of Binance), Vitalik Buterin (the founder of Ethereum), and Satoshi Nakamoto (the creator of Bitcoin) are part of the TruthGPT ecosystem even though they are not. The website even purports to incorporate a communications platform that permits users to allegedly interact with these and other public figures.
“These bad actors are making it seem like using artificial intelligence is a sure-fire get rich quick scheme,” said Attorney General Platkin. “But they underplay the risks associated with investing and can potentially harm investors and their life savings.”
According to the order, the Respondents have previously engaged in a series of initial coin offerings (ICOs), deploying the tokens on the Ethereum blockchain and Binance Smart Chain. They touted the profitability of the tokens through internet websites and social media, claiming an early offering was tied to a “money making machine Artificial Intelligence Lab” that had “the potential to go 1000x. Not 100x. Not just 100x. It’s 1000x.” The Respondents also told investors they could stake certain tokens to earn even greater profits—as much as 2,000% per year.
Despite their representations, the tokens previously offered by the Respondents never significantly increased in price and the tokens never secured listings on major centralized cryptocurrency exchanges. The fair market value of each token is now $0, according to the order.
“Scammers are recruiting investors with advertisements on social media that contain flashy graphics, use technical terminology, and promise significant profits coupled with little or no risk,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “But as we tell investors, if something seems too good to be true, it most likely is.”
TruthGPT Coin and the other investments named in the order have not been registered for sale in New Jersey, and Horatiu Charlie Caragaceanu, The Shark of Wall Street, and Hedge4.ai have not been registered as dealers or agents.
“The Bureau continues to work diligently to safeguard New Jerseyans from fraud and deceit in online investment offerings and we urge investors to help protect themselves by looking past the flashy graphics and high return promises to approach new investment products with caution,” said Acting Bureau Chief Amy G. Kopleton. “Raising public awareness of crypto-related fraud and the risks associated with unregistered securities is a critical part of the Bureau’s mission. An informed investor is the best protection against financial predators.”
The Bureau’s investigation was handled by Investigator Richard Pearsall.
The Bureau is charged with protecting investors from investment fraud and regulating the securities industry in New Jersey. The Bureau encourages investors to “Check Before you Invest” by obtaining information, including the registration status and disciplinary history, of any financial professional doing business to or from New Jersey. Investors should contact the Bureau toll-free within New Jersey at 1-866-I-Invest (1-866-446-8378) or from outside New Jersey at (973) 504-3600, or by visiting the Bureau’s website at www.NJSecurities.gov. Investors can also contact the Bureau for assistance, or to raise issues or complaints about New Jersey-based financial professionals or investments.