New Jersey influencer with 1M Instagram followers sentenced to 7 years in jail

A New Jersey man acknowledged to devising a scheme to defraud investors of more than $8 million and was sentenced to seven years in state prison on Wednesday, according to officials.

Jebara Igbara, 28, of Edgewater, will serve the sentence after pleading guilty to wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering in November 2022, according to a press statement from the United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York.

Igbara had approximately one million followers on his Instagram account, “Jay Mazini,” until March 2021. On the account, he would post videos illustrating, among other things, moments when he would give huge sums of money to various people as gifts, according to the office. His recordings showed him handing out enormous sums of cash to grocery store shoppers, fast food employees, and a woman he met at the airport who had lost her purse.

In actuality, federal authorities claim Igbara was running multiple fraud schemes, defrauding investors of at least $8 million. As part of his sentencing, Igbara was forced to forfeit $10 million. He will also make an unspecified sum of reparations to his victims.

Investigators say Igbara initiated an investment fraud scheme through a business called Halal Capital LLC. The fraud targeted members of New York’s Muslim-American community, requesting funds for alleged stock investments, electronics resale, and personal protection equipment sales.

However, the agency stated that Igbara was running a Ponzi scheme and plundered nearly all of the funds for personal spending, luxury vehicles, and gambling.

To raise funds to pay his investors “returns” and keep them on the hook, Igbara engaged in a second fraudulent scheme in which he advertised on his Instagram and other social media accounts that he was willing to pay above-market prices for various cryptocurrencies, federal prosecutors said.

He would then give his victims doctored photos of wire transfer confirmations, claiming he had delivered money for the cryptocurrency as promised. In truth, the payment was never made, and Igbara was only taking the cryptocurrency sent by his victim.

“The prosecution of Igbara unmasked him as a fraudster who used his social media popularity to con investors out of millions of dollars,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace in a statement.

“Shamefully, he targeted his own religious group, abusing their faith in him to waste and gamble their hard-earned money. Hopefully, today’s sentencing will cause fraudsters like this defendant to reconsider the repercussions before victimizing investors for personal gain.”

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