US Charges Stanford Crypto Group Director With Defrauding His Former Employer – the Fed

Lawrence Rufrano allegedly hid his work at Stanford and blockchain startup Factom from disability benefits regulators.

Oct 29, 2020 at 4:52 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:25 a.m. UTC

The executive director of Stanford’s Future of Digital Currency Initiative, Lawrence Rufrano, is facing federal wire fraud charges following a disability benefits fraud investigation by his former employer, the Federal Reserve.

  • Prosecutors allege Rufrano hid employment at two law firms, three companies and a university while also collecting long-term disability benefits from the Federal Reserve System for five years after departing due to a “purported” mental illness.
  • CoinDesk found at least two of Rufrano’s jobs intersected with cryptocurrency and the blockchain ecosystem. He directed Stanford’s digital currency group and also advised Factom, a now-defunct protocol development firm. Rufrano is also listed as an adviser to Christopher Giancarlo's Digital Dollar Project.
  • The Stanford Future of Digital Currency Initiative researches “all forms” of digital currency with the aim of standardizing their technicals and engaging government stakeholders, according to its current website. It boasts Ripple and IBM as corporate sponsors. Rufrano last appears as its executive director in an Oct. 25 cached version of the website.
  • Rufrano also led the Stanford School of Engineering’s Advanced Financial Technologies Lab. He managed that AI-focused program's relationships with banks and fund managers, according to the criminal complaint.
  • Stanford did not immediately return questions regarding its ties to Rufrano.
  • An Oct. 21 criminal complaint suggests Rufrano also assisted an unnamed law firm on matters related to blockchain and initial coin offerings. He received over $18,000 a month for advising that firm on fintech, the complaint said.
  • Rufrano was released Wednesday on a $25,000 bond.
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