NJ Instagram celebrity charged in Bitcoin scam

An Edgewater man who grew his Instagram following to nearly a million users by showcasing a luxury lifestyle and handing out cash to strangers is now accused of being a scam artist.

Jegara Igbara, also known as “Jay Mazini,” was charged by federal authorities in New York Wednesday with wire fraud for allegedly duping individuals into sending him Bitcoin, an increasingly valuable cryptocurrency, in return for a wire transfer of cash worth slightly more than the virtual currency.

In reality, according to federal prosecutors, the 25-year-old allegedly never sent the money and received at least $2.5 million worth of Bitcoin from multiple victims through the scheme.

“Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values,” FBI assistant director-in-charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “A behind-the-scenes look, however, revealed things aren’t always as they seem. There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims. A quick search of the interwebs today will reveal an entirely different image of this multimillion-dollar scammer.”

Igbara used his social media account, in which he promoted businesses and handing out large amounts of cash to random people, as a way to show his followers he was a person of “substantial means,” according to the criminal complaint.

In turn, authorities alleged, he used that to solicit his followers to sell him Bitcoin, which is currently valued at more than $55,000, in return for him paying up to 5% more to the person through a wire transfer.

In one alleged instance, an individual who saw Igbara’s postings about buying Bitcoin on social media reached out to Igbara about selling him some. When the two spoke over video call, according to the complaint, Igbara said he had a net worth of $33 million. He allegedly sent a screenshot of a purported wire transfer of more than $3 million he sent to the person in exchange for Bitcoin, authorities said.

The person then transferred approximately $750,000 worth of Bitcoin to Igbara.

However, authorities said Igbara’s wire transfer never went through and concluded the screenshot was fraudulent, according to the complaint.

Authorities said that fit a pattern with how Igbara allegedly scammed others into sending him Bitcoin, as well.

If convicted, Igbara faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

He is currently being held in New Jersey and will appear in federal court in New York at a later date.

Igbara’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

His Instagram account has been deleted.

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Joe Atmonavage may be reached at jatmonavage@njadvancemedia.com.

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