A 49-year old U.S. individual has pleaded guilty to a scheme, defrauding hundreds of investors with millions of dollars via a scheme involving bitcoin and cash. In two and a half years, he managed to fraudulently exchange at least $13 million.
Illegally Exchanging Tens of Millions of Dollars
A 49-year-old man from L.A. pleaded guilty to recent allegations of masterminding and operating Bitcoin-fiat exchange and money laundering.
According to an official statement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the San Bernardino County resident Hugo Sergio Mejia faces charges with running an unlicensed company and exchanging tens of millions of dollars in bitcoin and cash. The case included ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and IRS Criminal Investigation.
In the agreement, Mejia pleaded guilty and said that from May 2018 to September 2020, he had operated a digital currency business that exchanged cash for bitcoins and vice versa. He admitted charging his clients with commissions for the executed transactions and not registering the endeavor with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
As per the statement, Mejia managed to exchange at least $13 million in the two-and-a-half-year period of his business.
The defendant also admitted that he established other firms – Worldwide Secure Communications LLC, World Secure Data, and The HODL Group LLC – to cover the actual activity. The American promoted his businesses online, communicating with his victims through encrypted messaging services and personal meetings.
Additionally, in a period between May 2019 and March 2020, Mejia facilitated the exchange of 14.273 bitcoins for $82,150 in cash plus fees with a client reportedly working with law enforcement. Together, they managed to execute five bitcoin-cash transactions that exceeded $250,000 in total.
Mejia agreed to forfeit all assets derived from the scheme, including $233,987 in cash seized from residences in Santa Ana and Ontario, silver coins and bars, and about $95,587 in other cryptocurrencies.
Pleading guilty to the two counts, Mejia would face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.
US Navy Employees Selling 9,000 Identities for Bitcoin
In another recent case, a California couple has reportedly used their positions in the US Navy to access personal information and ultimately receive payments in BTC.
Marquis Asaad Hooper, 30, and his wife, Natasha Renee Chalk, 37, engaged more than 9,000 people identities, as per federal prosecutors allegation.
In August 2018, Hooper contacted a firm storing personal information on millions of people. He claimed that the Seventh Fleet needed access to the database to perform background checks on Navy personnel. According to the report, he added his wife, plus other co-operators to the database account run by the company.
Following, the couple searched for tens of thousands of people and obtained information on more than 9,000 people. They managed to sell personal information to others in exchange for bitcoin payments of at least $160,000.
Chalk and Hopper were reportedly detained, facing maximum penalties of 20 years in prison.