Monero’s ‘Fluffypony’ joins Ross Ulbricht and Arthur Hayes behind bars — but for a non-crypto crime
Riccardo Spagni, the former developer of the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero, was arrested last month over accusations of fraud.
- While Monero has attracted controversy for being the ‘vehicle of choice’ for cybercriminals, Spagni — or ‘
fluffypony’ — is behind bars on non-crypto related charges.
- He has been accused of defrauding his former employer, Cape Cookies, of approximately $100,000 by generating false invoices.
John McAfeefaced tax evasion charges, Ross Ulbrichtis convicted for operating The Silk Road, and Arthur Hayessurrendered over charges of money laundering.
Riccardo Spagni @fluffypony South African counsel legal statement:https://t.co/NvLA2aOMH8 https://t.co/VEXNx2JLf9— Saskia Spagni (@Spatzipantz) 1627993275000
Spagni joins a list of popular entrepreneurs and technologists who made it large with the help of cryptocurrencies but soon stumbled upon legal hurdles. Anti-virus mogul John McAfee faced tax evasion charges, Ross Ulbricht was convicted for operating the illegal website Silk Road, and BitMEX co-founder Arthur Hayes surrendered over charges of money laundering.
However, Spagni’s arrest was not a result of one of Monero’s alleged illicit transactions coming to light but because of another non-crypto crime, Spagni committed a decade ago.
The South African citizen has been accused of committing fraud between 2009 and 2011 while he was working as an IT manager for Cape cookies, also headquartered in South Africa.
But, that doesn’t mean his history with cryptocurrencies doesn’t have a role to play. According to the warrant seen by CoinDesk, Spagni is currently being held under arrest without the option to post bail because of two primary reasons. One is the value of his watch, pegged at around $800,000. And, the second reason is Spagni’s cryptocurrency holdings.
Consensus 2017: “fluffypony is the worst! He made a video with a fake announcement! I hate him!”Consensus 2018: “… https://t.co/QQmAEwf693— Riccardo Spagni (@fluffypony) 1526700634000
According to the authorities, this makes him a flight risk. As of August 3, the Monero developer is currently in the US Attorney General’s custody in Tennessee, awaiting extradition to South Africa.
Court documents allege that Spagni committed invoice payment fraud while working as an IT manager for a South Africa-based cookie company, Cape Cookies, ten years ago.
The case has been haunting for almost a decade
His former employer claims that Spagni defrauded them off approximately $100,000 by generating false invoices from fictional entities. These transactions can also be traced back to his personal account.
Spagni was originally charged with fraud and related charges in a regional Cape Town court but failed to appear for further proceedings. South African law enforcement authorities tried to locate him at this registered residence but soon realised he had absconded to the US. An arrest warrant was issued in April.
Spagni is often referred to as 'fluffypony' in the crypto world due to his social media handle and the critical role he played in developing Monero. This cryptocurrency promises better privacy and protection in comparison to its competitors like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Monero's current team hasn't issued a statement yet, despite Spagni being a famous face in the crypto community. This could possibly be because he hasn't been directly associated with the Monero project since 2019.
Although his wife, Sashka Spagni, provided a message on her husband's behalf via Twitter.
1/2 Thank you everyone for your kind messages and in this matter. A message from @fluffypony: Unfortunately, due… https://t.co/qmZ816FYTk— Saskia Spagni (@Spatzipantz) 1627938783000
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