A Tennessee couple is facing charges from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for allegedly operating a $6 million digital assets commodity pool scheme. Michael and Amanda Griffis, owners of a real estate company in Clarksville, are accused of defrauding over 100 individuals across the country. The couple is also accused of not registering with the CFTC for their multi-million dollar commodity pool scheme, which ran from July 2022 to January 2023.
The scheme, named “Blessings of God Thru Crypto,” involved the Griffises enticing their colleagues and customers to pool funds together for trading digital asset commodity futures contracts. Despite lacking trading experience, they managed to convince more than 100 people to send over $6 million to participate in the scheme.
Participants in the pool sent over $4 million to the “Apex Trading Platform,” but the funds were quickly transferred to digital wallets beyond the control of the Griffises and are now unrecoverable. Additionally, the couple misappropriated nearly $1 million of the pool funds to pay off debts and purchase luxury items, including expensive jewelry and an all-terrain vehicle.
To sustain the scheme, the Griffises used the remaining pool funds to make Ponzi-like payments. The CFTC’s Director of Enforcement, Ian McGinley, stated that the defendants took advantage of the trust placed in them by the pool participants and profited from their betrayal.
The CFTC is seeking restitution for the defrauded participants, as well as civil monetary penalties and permanent trading and registration bans for the Griffises. They have also requested a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations. However, the agency cautioned that the victims may not be able to recover their lost funds due to the defendants’ potential lack of assets.
This case follows another recent CFTC charge against William Koo Ichioka, who allegedly defrauded investors of $21 million by falsely claiming to be a digital asset and forex trader. The CFTC is committed to holding accountable those who take advantage of victims and will continue to pursue enforcement actions in such cases.