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.

AccessTimeIconOct 29, 2020 at 4:52 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:25 a.m. UTC
Consensus 2023 Logo
Join the most important conversation in crypto and Web3 taking place in Austin, Texas, April 26-28.
Consensus 2023 Logo
Join the most important conversation in crypto and Web3 taking place in Austin, Texas, April 26-28.

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.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2023, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.