The SEC announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against the operator of a worldwide pyramid scheme. California resident Steve Chen and 13 California-based entities, including USFIA Inc. are at the center of the alleged scheme. According to the SEC’s complaint, USFIA and Chen’s other entities have raised more than $32 million from investors in and outside the U.S. since at least April 2013. The SEC alleges that Chen and his companies misled investors about a lucrative public offering for USFIA that never happened and about ownership of amber deposits worth billions of dollars. In addition, the SEC alleges that investors were told their holdings had been converted into “Gemcoins,” a virtual currency supposedly backed by the company’s amber holdings, but which were actually worthless. SEC
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