John Monarch, CEO of Shipchain, Sued for Alleged Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Scheme

From left to right: Daniel Warner, John Monarch, Richart Ruddie, Aaron Kelly

3/13/18 ALERT!   Forbes takes down Shipchain article after discovering it was allegedly illegally paid for by Shipchain and/or someone at John Monarch’s direction.   The paid Forbes article touted Shipchain was a “revolutionary” company that is one of a “handful of blockchain platforms poised to do things even the Internet couldn’t accomplish.”  

*5/16/18 ALERT!  South Carolina Man Links to $100M+ in Alleged Scams – CLICK TO READ

*5/28/18 ALERT!   John Monarch’s cryptocurrency company, Shipchain, served with Cease & Desist order by South Carolina Attorney General

*7/28/18 ALERT!  South Carolina Attorney General issues a seemingly ominous order after vacating Cease & Desist:  “It does not and should not be interpreted to waive any future causes of action which may be brought as a result of any securities activities of the Respondant (Shipchain), whether detailed in the Administrative Order to Cease & Desist or Not.

*8/13/18 ALERT!  John Monarch’s business partner and co-founder of Shipchain placed on probation with the Arizona Bar till August of 2020 for role in alleged legal fraud schemes.

*9/12/18 ALERT!  Lawsuit filed against Shipchain and it’s founders: John Monarch, Aaron Kelly, Brian Evans, Sami Rusani

10/14/18 ALERT!  Several Shipchain investors take to the internet to complain of fortune’s lost in the Shipchain ICO.   Out of $30M raised, Shipchain ICO has lost over $28M of its value for investors. 

According to a lawsuit pending in South Carolina, John Monarch, CEO of Shipchain (which has sold $30M in cryptocurrency this month and is now raising an additional $15M via ICO offerings), is expected to stand trial for his alleged role in a 2013 cryptocurrency blackmail scheme this year.

It is alleged that Monarch, whom is a self-proclaimed cryptocurrency expert, blackmailed Pa. businessman Richard Gorman for $500,000 in cryptocurrency in December, 2013. When Gorman refused to pay the cryptocurrency ransom, the lawsuit alleges that Monarch and co-conspirators waged an online smear campaign against Gorman’s employees, clients, vendors, and children.

Monarch’s co-defendant and one-time best friend, Karl Steinborn, was held liable for $3.1M in damages and subsequently committed suicide in 2016 on Gorman’s birthday.   The case against Monarch, which was originally filed in Federal Court in Pennsylvania, will be tried in Greenville, South Carolina.  Gorman has retained the state’s top litigators, Robert Goings and Kirby Shealy, to try the case.

Injunction Order 5.20.15 copy
Injunction Order 5.20.15

BlankRome LLP and Kroll Investigative Services were retained by Gorman in Pennsylvania, where the case was originally filed, and were successful in tracing the blackmail back to Monarch & Steinborn, according to the lawsuit.    The lawsuit alleges that Monarch and Steinborn used the pseudonym “Ilya” and operated a blackmail site called prominently listed Monarch’s fulfillment business, Direct Outbound, in its advertising section. Additionally Monarch was PerformOutsider’s first follower on social media.

Timeline of Events


Pace 1
Pace 2

In November of 2013 Gorman would send out what he claims was an innocuous tweet about competition, which at the time Gorman did not know who John Monarch was and had never heard of Monarch’s company Direct Outbound.

Richard Gorman Tweet

It appears that Monarch, whom admits to have read Gorman’s blog and twitter account in the past, mistakingly believed the tweet was directed at him:

John Monarch’s Tweet 1 week later.

One week later, John Monarch, whom is a former band player at Clemson and a self-proclaimed diehard Clemson fan, had some harsh words for Gorman on Twitter after Gorman tweet’s about the Seminoles.

11-30-13 Tweet from Richard Gorman

Gorman claims that Monarch threatened him in a barrage of tweets, claiming that Gorman needs to “watch his back.”    Monarch admits to deleting his tweets at Gorman thereafter, and admits to having some harsh words with Gorman, whom he had never spoken to or met prior.   Monarch denies that his words constituted threats.

Then, less than 2 weeks later on 12-10-13, Gorman coincidentally received a blackmail notice demanding $500,000 in cryptocurrency or else the cryptocurrency blackmailer claimed he would attack Gorman’s wife, children, company, and colleagues:

Gorman did not pay the $500,000 in cryptocurrency.   Instead, Gorman hired the services of BlankRome and Kroll, which the lawsuit alleges helped him track down Steinborn and Monarch.

True to the blackmailers words, an all out cyberattack on Gorman’s family, co-workers, clients, and vendors ensued.  The lawsuit alleges that the damages were catastrophic, causing to go out of business and caused significant damage to Gorman both personally and professionally.

According to Gorman, the attack went on non-stop for over a week until Gorman’s attorneys were able to send out Cease & Desist letters to both Monarch and Steinborn.  Thereafter the attacks immediately stopped.

12-20-13 Letter to John Monarch
12-20-13 Letter to Steinborn
12-21-13 Karl Steinborn response

Litigation would follow, including a countersuit filed by Monarch’s attorney/business partner Aaron Kelly that named Gorman’s wife, a homemaker that was never involved in Gorman’s business affairs.  When Attorney Aaron Kelly was disqualified from the case, Kelly’s partner, Daniel Warner, entered his appearance.

Richart Ruddie, unbeknownst to Gorman at the time, was good friends with Monarch, Kelly, and Warner.  Richart Ruddie, whom Monarch chose to use as a professional witness against Gorman in Monarch’s countersuit, is alleged by the Arizona Bar to have engaged in multiple scams with Warner/Kelly in a complaint filed this past Friday.


According to several legal experts, Monarch’s business partner and attorney, Aaron Kelly, and his law partner Daniel Warner, are facing the most egregious bar complaint seen in years.    It is believed that both attorneys will get disbarred this year.

It may be more than a coincidence that the SEC is now targeting lawyers that are assisting companies like Shipchain that are offering ICO cryptocurrency sales, which the SEC has claimed is a securities violation.   Shipchain’s general counsel, Julian Zegelman, could face legal consequences in his role in the ICO offerings at Shipchain.