Israeli crypto entrepreneur joins privacy-focused project amid fraud allegations

Moshe Hogeg, an Israeli entrepreneur, has returned to the spotlight of the crypto industry after speaking at a conference in Morocco on ‘alternative internet network’ Tomi.

Speaking at the Nakamoto Forum in Marrakech on June 6, Hogeg was one of a handful of project leaders at Tomi who spoke on the network’s privacy features to a crowd of investors, representatives from crypto and blockchain firms, and members of the media. The entrepreneur was arrested by Israeli authorities in November 2021 for allegedly engaging in financial fraud related to cryptocurrency as well as trafficking and underage prostitution.

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Hogeg compared himself to other industry leaders including Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, who was targeted by United States authorities in their case against the global exchange. The Israeli entrepreneur claimed officials understood the power of public opinion among those in crypto and the financial world, and conducted “a well-orchestrated attack” to damage his reputation.

“I see that more and more key figures in the crypto industry are becoming targets to authorities,” Hogeg told Cointelegraph. “Whenever there’s something like this […] they try to eliminate the risks. I think that something very similar happened to me in Israel.”

Hogeg said there had been no official indictment in his case, which largely required him to be under house arrest for several months in 2021 and 2022. He reportedly received permission from an Israeli court to visit Morocco for the conference, temporarily lifting his travel restrictions between May 27 and June 13.

Several members of the Tomi team introduced features of the project, ranging from a content creator platform to minting nonfungible tokens. Hogeg described himself as being a “small” but “significant” part of the Tomi team amid his own controversies in his talks at the Nakamoto Forum.

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As part of a demonstration for attendees, Hogeg and a Tomi developer showed how they encrypted Tether (USDT) to create a “totally private” token. He spoke on the network’s privacy solution, which seemed to allow crypto users to send ERC-20 and Ethereum-based tokens without any trace of the transaction on blockchain analytics platform Etherscan.

“Ethereum is great — but Ethereum is not private,” Hogeg told attendees. “Privacy is a basic, basic right. So developing a technology that allows you to transact billions of dollars without risking your privacy is groundbreaking.”

With the addition of Hogeg to the team, Tomi recently raised $10 million for the project on top of a $40-million funding round the firm announced in March. The price of the network’s tomiNET (TOMI) token surged to an all-time high of $6.59 on June 6 amid the Nakamoto Forum, but has since dropped to $4.70 at the time of publication.

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