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Convicted fraudster, SA entrepreneur Eran Eyal now faces deportation from US

SA entrepreneur and Springleap and Shopin founder Eran Eyal who was convicted in December of defrauding investors of millions of dollars, faces deportation from the US, after being sentenced yesterday in a New York court.

Eyal, 44, was convicted in December of operating a series of three securities fraud schemes, including a $42.5-million fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO) in his new cryptocurrency startup Shopin (see this story).

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It comes after he was charged in August 2018 of stealing $600 000 from four Springleap investors.

In separate charges, lodged on the same day he was convicted, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also alleges that Eyal misappropriated investor funds from the $42.5-million ICO, for his personal use, including at least $500 000 used for rent, shopping, entertainment expenses and a dating service.

As part of a plea agreement with the New York Attorney General’s office which secured his conviction, Eyal escaped a jail term in exchange for stepping down as CEO from Shopin and being barred from serving as a company officer in the state of New York for three years. As part of the plea agreement he also has to repay Springleap investors.

Yesterday it emerged that Eyal is being held in a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in New Jersey state.

SA entrepreneur Eran Eyal was convicted in December 2019 of operating a series of three securities fraud schemes

It is understood by Ventureburn that Eyal was arrested last Thursday (20 February) at his upmarket apartment complex, which is situated on the East River in Williamsburg, New York, after returning from Santa Monica, California to visit his girlfriend.

Yesterday morning a frail looking bespectacled Eyal wearing handcuffs and leg cuffs, was escorted by US Marshals into a court room at the Kings County Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Dressed in a pair of grey track pants and a black jacket and wearing a white yarmulke and clutching a small black bound copy of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, Eyal looked straight ahead as Judge Danny K Chun told him he would have 48 hours to leave the US when ICE decided to release him.

When asked by Judge Chun if he had anything to say, Eyal responded only by saying “No your honour”.

Judge Chun also told the parties in court that he had received $125 000 from Eyal, via his attorney’s escrow account. Eyal, he said, had made commitments to repay the remaining $475 000 in four amounts, which the judge provided details of in court yesterday.

The $125 000 was made in cash and came from his $250 000 bail payment, Brian Metz who oversaw the case on behalf of the New York Attorney General told Ventureburn following the sentencing yesterday.

It is not clear when he will be released, as the New York Attorney General’s office is yet to recover all the money he took from Springleap investors. In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laid civil charges in December which seek to recover the $42.5-million Eyal’s latest startup Shopin, raised in a 2018 initial coin offering (ICO).

In addition, it is unclear to where he will be deported. Eyal, who grew up in Durban before moving to Cape Town in 2008 from where he ran Springleap, has both South African and Israeli passports, having been born in Haifa, Israel on 15 March 1975.

However, as he entered the US, from South Africa, it is likely he will be deported there.

*Ventureburn was reporting from New York for this article.

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Featured image: US based SA entrepreneur Eran Eyal (via Facebook)

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