To my fellow Bitcoinica users.
Thus far repeated attempts to contact Bitcoinica regarding a refund from them have met with nothing more than structured silence.
I promised in a previous comment on this thread that I would explain the process to begin legal proceedings against Bitcoinica and this post is my attempt to fulfill my promise.
Be aware that this is not intended as legal advice.
What I am about to explain is primarily applicable to United States citizens, however the legal logic, reasoning and process is somewhat universal, because what they are doing now is theft, breach of trust and malfeasance, which most countries in the world do have laws against.
First you must by now be aware that due to the way Bitcoinica was structured, civil proceedings are going to be difficult.
However this does not mean that all is lost. The behavior shown thus far by Bitcoinica, and Bitcoin Consultancy does in fact appear to rise to the level of a criminal enterprise. Therefore an active criminal investigation is warranted. Once there has been action on a criminal complaint most of the evidence uncovered becomes a matter of public record and then can be used in civil litigation as well.
In the United States the primary charge to seek is one of Wire Fraud, 18 USC : 1343
"Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both."
Which leads us to a question of jurisdiction. You should go down to your local police station and file an official complaint. The local police are unlikely to be able to do much more than take your complaint. However that complaint is your key to the rest of this. Before you file your complaint though make sure to have all of your ducks in a row. First gather any supporting evidence you have. This includes checking your bank if you deposited funds via wire, mtgox for mtgox codes etc. Deposits made by Bitcoin are easy enough to verify via BlockChain explorer.
A criminal complaint should answer the questions of who, what, where, when and how.
For the "who" you would be best served by naming the individuals involved thus far, especially those with a more public profile such as
Christopher HEASLIP (Owner of record according to http://www.business.govt.nz
Flat 3, 10 Dorchester Street, Meadowbank, Auckland, 1072 , New Zealand
Also make sure to put in the complaint "D.B.A. Bitcoinica LP, DBA Bitcoinica Consultancy, DBA Core Credit Limited, DBA PushPay".
The rest is your specific allegation. This is a snippet from mine, but you should really make your own. "Prior to May 11th 2012, I placed x funds on deposit at Bitcoinica via y means. On May 11th 2012, Zhou Tong, the founder and to the best of my knowledge owner of the company, alleged in a public forum that his institution "Bitcoinica" had suffered a break in by an unknown attacker who stole deposits of BTC 18,547 and that he would be taking the website offline temporarily to address the situation. This break-in and theft while widely reported in the media was never reported to police or any other authority to the best of my knowledge and therefore appears to be nothing more than a ruse. This is supported by the fact that since that time no communication from any official channel has occurred. However through unofficial channels, i.e. the forum where the original posting occurred, they announced a refund process and subsequent claims page. Filling out the claims page resulted in an email (see attached) that was completely devoid of relevant information. They have also posted 2 updates on their home page at www.bitcoinica.com
, which go into greater detail about the alleged break in (see attached). Nevertheless, they currently state in unofficial channels that my funds valued at $x are no longer available to me, because they have purportedly lost all records. This is theft as I can easily document all deposits and withdrawals to them (see attached) and have done so via the methods that they themselves have proscribed."
The important thing to remember is to not make any allegation you cannot support with documentation. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the more likely the complaint is to be taken seriously. Also avoid using emotion and emotionally charged words, these carry no weight in investigative work and if you come off as too emotional, you probably won't get the results you expected.
When you file your complaint, make sure that the detective who takes it, understands that the fraud and theft span multiple agencies & jurisdictions and that you would like a copy sent to the Auckland police department since they have direct jurisdiction over the owner. Also be sure to get a copy to your State Attorney Generals office, division of consumer protection or it's equivalent in your area and the local FBI office. Since it is a financial crime, the allegation can prevent them from obtaining work in the financial services sector and defrauding others in the future.
Once you have filed your complaint you will get a case number. Make a copy of your full complaint and your case number and submit them to http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
This will get the FBI & FTC involved on a broader perspective than just your local office. If ic3 receives enough complaints they can take broader criminal action and co-operate internationally to make life very uncomfortable for them. While it may seem strange to involve the FBI, there is a reason for it. Just having your name attached to an open "Federal" case in the USA can make travel very difficult anywhere in the world. Furthermore mutual co-operation treaties mean that all bank accounts owned by these criminals can be frozen while the matter is under investigation, pretty much no matter where they are in the world, but again that's federal action.
At this point, you need to make sure you gathered business cards from everyone you spoke to as you were filing these. Call them at least once a week to check on the status of the case. Let them know any new information that comes to light and generally speaking let them know you aren't going to go away but you'll be glad to testify against these guys.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I sincerely hope you will take the time and effort to file a criminal complaint against them. The more of us that do this, the faster we will see action on it.