Ex-CFO Who Stole $5M to Trade Crypto and ‘Meme Stocks’ Gets 3 Years in Prison

On April 27, 2023, the United States Department of Justice announced the sentencing of Cooper Morgenthau, the former chief financial officer of African Gold Acquisition Corporation (AGAC), to three years in prison after embezzling over $5 million from three different special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) to trade cryptocurrencies and “meme stocks.” The case highlights the dangers of insider theft and the risks of speculative investments.

Embezzlement of Over $5 Million

Cooper Morgenthau was accused of embezzling funds from AGAC, SMAC I, and SMAC II between June 2021 and August 2022. According to the DOJ press release, Morgenthau transferred the stolen funds to his personal accounts and used the money to trade cryptocurrencies and “meme stocks.” However, he lost almost all of the money, leaving the SPACs and their investors with significant losses.

Morgenthau’s actions violated his duty as a CFO to act in the best interests of the companies he served. He abused his position of trust to steal millions of dollars and engage in high-risk speculative investments. His actions not only harmed the companies but also violated the trust of investors who had placed their funds in the SPACs.

The Importance of Insider Threat Prevention

Morgenthau’s case underscores the importance of preventing insider threats. Insider threats are security risks that come from within an organization, such as employees or contractors who have access to sensitive information or systems. These individuals may intentionally or unintentionally cause harm to the organization, such as stealing intellectual property, leaking confidential data, or conducting fraudulent activities.

To prevent insider threats, organizations must implement strong security measures, such as access controls, monitoring systems, and background checks. They must also provide ongoing training to employees and contractors on security best practices and the risks of insider threats. By taking a proactive approach to security, organizations can reduce the risk of insider theft and protect their assets and reputation.

The Risks of Speculative Investments

Morgenthau’s case also highlights the risks of speculative investments, such as cryptocurrencies and “meme stocks.” These types of investments are highly volatile and can result in significant losses if not managed properly. While some investors may see these investments as a way to make quick profits, they often overlook the potential risks and downsides.

Investors should conduct thorough research and analysis before investing in any asset, including cryptocurrencies and stocks. They should also have a clear understanding of their investment goals and risk tolerance. Additionally, they should diversify their portfolios to minimize their exposure to any single asset or market.

The Consequences of Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a serious crime that can have severe consequences for both the perpetrator and the victims. In Morgenthau’s case, he will spend three years in prison and has been ordered to pay restitution to the SPACs he stole from. Additionally, his actions have damaged the reputation of the companies and their investors, who may have lost faith in the integrity of the financial system.

Embezzlement can also have long-term consequences for the perpetrator. They may face difficulties finding employment or obtaining financial services, such as loans or credit cards. They may also face civil lawsuits or other legal action, which can further damage their reputation and financial well-being.

The Importance of Corporate Governance

Morgenthau’s case also highlights the importance of strong corporate governance. Corporate governance refers to the systems and processes that companies use to manage their operations, finances, and relationships with stakeholders. Effective governance helps companies make sound decisions, comply with regulations, and maintain the trust of their investors and customers.

To ensure strong governance, companies should establish clear policies and procedures for financial management, risk management, and internal controls. They should also appoint independent directors and auditors to provide oversight and accountability. By promoting transparency and accountability, companies can reduce the risk of fraud and protect the interests of their stakeholders.

The Future of Cryptocurrencies and Meme Stocks

Morgenthau’s use of cryptocurrencies and meme stocks as investment vehicles also raises questions about the future of these assets. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, have become increasingly popular in recent years, with some investors viewing them as a hedge against inflation or a store of value. However, their volatility and lack of regulation have made them a controversial investment.

Similarly, meme stocks, such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment, have gained attention from retail investors who use social media platforms to coordinate their trades. While these stocks may have short-term price spikes, they often lack the fundamentals to support their valuations.

As these types of investments become more mainstream, regulators may need to increase their oversight to protect investors and maintain market stability. Investors should also be cautious when investing in these assets and ensure they understand the risks involved.


Cooper Morgenthau’s embezzlement of $5 million to trade cryptocurrencies and meme stocks serves as a cautionary tale for both insider threat prevention and speculative investing. Companies must take proactive measures to prevent insider theft and protect their assets, while investors must conduct proper due diligence and diversify their portfolios to minimize risk. Strong corporate governance and effective regulation are essential to maintaining the integrity of the financial system and protecting the interests of all stakeholders.