A Bradbury man has agreed to plead guilty to bilking thousands of investors worldwide out of millions of dollars through a sham digital currency scheme, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Steve “Boss” Chen, 62, faces up to 10 years behind bars once sentenced on one federal count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax evasion. He is expected to make his initial federal court appearance in the case March 10, but a plea hearing date has not been set.

According to his plea agreement, Chen was the owner and CEO of U.S. Fine Investment Arts Inc. and six other companies that used the same Arcadia address. From July 2013 until September 2015, he allegedly fraudulently promoted and solicited USFIA investments, and he ultimately obtained $147 million from more than 70,000 victim-investors, according to the document filed Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court.

Chen admitted in the agreement that he falsely promoted USFIA as a successful multi-level marketing company that extracted amber and other gemstones from non-existent mines it “owned” in the United States, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico. Investors were duped into buying USFIA digital currency investments in amounts ranging between $1,000 and $30,000 each, purportedly backed by the gems, court documents allege.

These “packages” purportedly consisted of amber and other gemstones, as well USFIA “points,” which could be converted to USFIA shares when the company had its IPO in the near future. Chen admitted that he never intended for USFIA to have an IPO, prosecutors allege.

USFIA also offered other bonuses — including cash, travel, luxury cars, homes in the Los Angeles area and EB-5 visas for immigrant investors — to investors who recruited other people to purchase these “packages,” Chen admitted.

Chen also admitted that the company did not generate any significant revenue from its business operations, apart from sales of investment packages to victim-investors. The amber and other gemstones provided in the investment packages — including those displayed at USFIA’s Arcadia headquarters — were obtained from domestic and foreign commercial suppliers, assigned grossly inflated prices and worth much less than what investors paid USFIA for them. Chen admitted that “Gem Coins” had no circulation in any industry, were not accepted by any merchants and had no economic value, according to the plea agreement.

“Mr. Chen’s promises to investors were as worthless as his non-existent mines and phony digital currency,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna. “This case should remind all investors that trappings of success may convey legitimacy, but everyone should exercise extreme care when considering giving hard-earned money to any outfit promoting trendy products and extravagant profits.”

Chen also admitted to attempting to evade payment of federal income taxes. His reported gross income for 2014 was $138,015, when in fact his income for that year was $4,816,193, upon which Chen owed $1,885,094 — before interest and penalties, according to federal prosecutors.

Leonard Stacy Johnson, 53, of Huntington Beach, who worked at Chen’s direction in promoting USFIA and Gem Coins, pleaded guilty in July to one count of tax evasion and one count of making a false statement on an immigration document. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 22.

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