Centra Tech (ticker symbol CTR) was a company that sold $32 million of cryptocurrency in an initial coin offering (ICO) in 2017. The main selling point of the ICO was that Centra had entered into a partnership with Visa Inc. to issue a debit card for cryptocurrencies; the claim was denied by Visa.
2017 The New York Times exposé
The New York Times had exposed many of the activities of Centra Tech in an October 27, 2017 article, including its use of endorsements from Floyd Mayweather Jr. and DJ Khaled, and that Sharma had previously been indicted for perjury related to an alleged drunk driving incident. The CEO of the firm, "Michael Edwards", was fictitious and, in its sales material, the company had claimed that a photograph of a person taken from the Internet was Edwards.
Two founders of the company, Sam Sharma and Robert Farkas, were arrested April 1, 2018 on federal charges that included securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The following day, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil suit against Sharma and Farkas, alleging securities fraud and seeking to shutter the company. On April 20, a third co-founder, Raymond Trapani, was also charged. In May 2018, all three co-founders were indicted for fraud.
In November 2018, both Mayweather and Khaled agreed to a financial settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for failing to disclose payments accepted from issuers of initial coin offerings, including Centra Tech. In June 2020, the Justice Department announced that Farkas had plead guilty to fraud.
- "SEC Complaint against SOHRAB ("SAM") SHARMA and ROBERT FARKAS" (PDF). sec.gov. April 2, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
- Popper, Nathaniel (April 2, 2018). "2 Founders of $32 Million Centra Virtual Currency Project Are Arrested". New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
- Popper, Nathaniel (October 27, 2017). "How Floyd Mayweather Helped Two Young Guys From Miami Get Rich". New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
- DOJ "Third Co-Founder Of Cryptocurrency Company Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Scheme To Defraud Investors", United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, Department of Justice; April 20, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- Gordon, Marcy (November 29, 2018). "Mayweather, DJ Khaled settle over digital coin promotions". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York (2020-06-16). "Co-Founder Of Cryptocurrency Company Pleads Guilty For Role In ICO Fraud Scheme".