YouTube vlogger and cryptocoin pundit Trevon James, a.k.a. “Bitcoin Tre” has revealed he’s due to face court in South Carolina on March 16th to testify over his online promotion of several coin-related projects, most notably the failed Ponzi scheme Bitconnect.
Subscribe to the Bitsonline YouTube channel for more great interviews featuring industry insiders & experts
In a video announcement posted on March 2nd, 2018, James read his subpoena from the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, Securities Division. Though the action appears state-level (for now), federal regulator the CFTC recently declared a “bounty” on cryptocurrency “pump and dumpers”, saying it would be watching social media posts and calling whistleblowers to report the worst offenders.
Bitcoin Tre Didn’t Do Anything Wrong – Says Bitcoin Tre
“I feel pretty innocent, I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said in a piece that was characteristically introspective but more subdued than usual. “But what’s not wrong to me might be wrong in the eye of the government.”
“I guess I’m in trouble for selling securities… that’s what the whole cease and desist was about.” Later he added, “Any judge who looks at my videos will say, this guy is just entertaining”.
“I’m kinda disappointed in my ignorance of what Bitconnect is, as far as securities and stuff go, I don’t know anything. I still don’t know what a security is. I don’t even care enough what a security is. I wasn’t selling securities. Bitconnect might’ve been selling securities.”
Who Is Trevon James and How Was He Involved With Bitconnect?
Bitconnect, a much-hyped bitcoin and token-based exchange and lending platform that appeared to target 20-somethings in Asia and around the world, collapsed in mid-January 2018, taking $2.4 billion USD of its investors’ money with it. That’s despite most industry media, including Bitsonline, repeatedly warning the scheme was dubious months before the collapse. The comments under those articles are wryly amusing in hindsight.
James’ casual style and self-confessed naiveté about cryptocurrencies and investing stood him out among YouTube’s expert traders, libertarian extroverts and technical analysts. The image he pushed, that of a guy just like you who’s trying to grasp all this stuff, led many to trust him as some kind of authority.
Many of his videos taught newbies how to acquire and trade bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Others hyped (likely sponsored) giveaways and promotions for projects including Burst, Genesis Mining, Dash, among other tokens.
James most notably promoted Bitconnect throughout 2017, saying he was an investor himself. When the scheme collapsed he walked back much of his enthusiasm, but blamed haters for Bitconnect’s failings and told Bitconnect coin (BCC) holders to hang onto their stashes.
Scambusting site BehindMLM speculated on James’ relationship with the Bitconnect organizers, and wondered if his subpoena would actually result in him being a defendant in South Carolina’s Bitconnect case.
As fellow YouTuber Crypto Jedi pointed out though, U.S. law prohibits profited from a Ponzi scheme in any way, whether you’re involved with it or not, no matter what disclaimers you put on your advice. James himself has appeared rattled about the prospect of legal action in several of his recent videos.
But Is it Good Content?
Like any good vlogger, James knows how to milk the drama surrounding his personal life for material. He described how he’d felt scared at the prospect of any kind of legal action over his online activities, and was relieved to finally know what it is.
He described how he “has two kids to look after” and described the hate mail and threats he’d received, “mainly from people who had nothing to do with Bitconnect”.
In fact, his court date announcement video, with comments disabled, features not a description but a promotional campaign from Genesis Mining promising “FREE BITCOIN”.
True, there hasn’t been much sympathy for James/Bitcoin Tre since Bitconnect collapsed. Even months before that, writer Callum Campbell called him out in a Steemit post for his Bitconnect support, calling him “a liar and a scammer”. There have been hundred of comments and other videos accusing James of causing investors to lose thousands of dollars, and entire life savings.
James claimed at one point he decided to stop making YouTube videos — before following in the footsteps of almost every famous YouTuber who’d said the same, and continued to make more videos. “I’m addicted to making videos,” he admitted in his court date announcement.
What will happen to Trevon James and other online crypto promoters? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Images via YouTube, Twitter