FINRA takes down an unregistered cryptocurrency security

FINRA, the non-profit organization that tasks itself with policing the securities industry, is charging Timothy Tilton Ayre of Agawam, Massachusetts with fraud and unlawful distribution of unregistered cryptocurrency securities.

Ayre claimed that users could buy equity in his company, Rocky Mountain Ayre, Inc., buy purchasing HempCoin, a cryptocurrency. From the release:

In the complaint, FINRA alleges that, from January 2013 through October 2016, Ayre attempted to lure public investment in his worthless public company, Rocky Mountain Ayre, Inc. (RMTN) by issuing and selling HempCoin – which he publicized as “the first minable coin backed by marketable securities” – and by making fraudulent, positive statements about RMTN’s business and finances. RMTN was quoted on the Pink Market of OTC Markets Group and traded over the counter.

According to the complaint, FINRA also alleges that in June 2015, Ayre bought the rights to HempCoin and repackaged it as a security backed by RMTN common stock. Ayre marketed HempCoin as “the world’s first currency to represent equity ownership” in a publicly traded company and promised investors that each coin was equivalent to 0.10 shares of RMTN common stock. Investors mined more than 81 million HempCoin securities through late 2017 and bought and sold the security on two cryptocurrency exchanges. FINRA charges Ayre with the unlawful distribution of an unregistered security because he never registered HempCoin and no exemption to registration applied.

Because FINRA is not a government body its charges are rarely very onerous but, in the case of brokerage fraud, Ayre could face further scrutiny of he tries to sell securities in the future. The company, Rocky Mountain Ayre, seems to be associated with a restaurant and medical marijuana sales operation, although it is unclear what the company actually does. Hempcoin seems to be trading at 2 cents currently and has very limited trading volume.

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