Instagram fraudster ‘Jay Mazini’ has been sentenced for his crypto scheme that preyed on Muslims

NEW YORK — The former Instagram influencer known as “Jay Mazini,” who defrauded millions of dollars from online followers and a network of Muslims during the pandemic, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison, prosecutors said.

Jebara Igbara, 28, of New Jersey, had pleaded guilty to fraud charges and admitted to creating a Ponzi scheme involving cryptocurrency fraud that netted approximately $8 million. Prosecutors say the money financed a decadent lifestyle, including luxury cars and lots of gambling.

Taking advantage of the economic chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, Igbara leveraged connections in the Muslim community to raise investments for his company Hallal Capital LLC, saying it would generate returns on stocks and on the resale of electronics and personal protective equipment.

“Disgracefully, he targeted his own religious community and took advantage of their trust in him so he could spend and gamble with their hard-earned money,” Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

While networking locally with high-end investors, Igbara boosted his online persona and gained about 1 million Instagram followers, prosecutors said.

One way he built a following was by filming cash giveaways, often handing stacks of cash to fast-food workers or regular people checking out at Walmart. In at least one video, he handed out cash with rapper 50 Cent.

Viewers got the impression that he was so successful that he could simply give away money. And his online popularity earned him even more trust among fraud victims, prosecutors said.

In 2020, he drew the ire of online sleuths who publicly accused him of fraud, and cheered when he was arrested on kidnapping charges in 2021. He later admitted in another case to kidnapping a potential witness to his fraud.

But according to court documents, many of his victims turned to the FBI.

According to court documents, at least four people told FBI agents they had sent more than $100,000 worth of Bitcoin with the promise of a cash transfer. One victim reported being scammed out of 50 Bitcoin, with Igbara first forging $2.56 million via bank transfer and later explaining why the transfers had not arrived.

Igbara addressed the people he defrauded before his sentencing in a federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

“He apologized profusely to his victims,” attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said after the sentencing Wednesday in Brooklyn.

Igbara’s seven-year prison sentence for fraud will run concurrently with the five-year sentence for the kidnapping and includes time served since 2021, his lawyer said.

As part of his sentence, Igbara must pay $10 million to his victims.

As for ‘Jay Mazini’, Instagram and other social media accounts are largely scrubbed. But the saga lives on in compilations on YouTube and in an episode of the 2023 documentary series “The Age of Influence.”