An Australian whiz kid who ran a lucrative cryptocurrency investment fund valued at nearly $100 million has been sentenced to more than 7 years on Wednesday, Sept. 15, after committing securities fraud and embezzling money from hedge fund investors to line his own pocket.

Stefan Qin, a 24-year-old savant who dropped out of college to establish his own hedge fund, has been arrested for securities fraud after attempting to defraud over 100 investors of the $90 million that they invested into his ventures, Bloomberg reported.

His companies, Virgil Sigma and VQR, were cryptocurrency hedge funds that ran on an algorithm called Tenjin, which bought cryptocurrency at low amounts and sold them to different markets for a profit.

He found early market success that he capitalized on, culminating in a Wall Street Journal feature in 2018 that he used to further push his hedge fund higher, skyrocketing the value to over $90 million, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.

“Qin’s investors soon discovered that his strategies weren’t much more than a disguised means for him to embezzle and make unauthorized investments with client funds,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.

Qin used the money to instead fund his own lavish lifestyle, embezzling money for personal expenses and non-cryptocurrency-related investments for himself. He also used fraudulent account statements to hide his embezzlement of Virgil Sigma’s funds.

Eventually, when the fund stopped making money and he was unable to pay back investors in Virgil Sigma, he doubled down and attempted to withdraw all his funds from VQR to pay back disgruntled investors. He left the company with over $54 million in losses and missing funds, according to the Associated Press.

“Now I feel ashamed to even look them in the eye and tell them I am sorry, but I must,” Qin told U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni as his lawyer tried to argue for a lesser sentence.

“I thought I was the main protagonist and life was a video game and I had just found the cheat code to beat it. As we know life is not a video game,” Qin told the judge.

The former crypto mogul will face court again for his prison sentencing on Dec. 15 later this year.

A cryptocurrency hedge fund owner has been convicted of securities fraud after using the money invested in his company to fund his own lavish lifestyle. This is a representational image. Unsplash

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