DoJ Apprehends New Jersey Native for Running an Unlicensed Bitcoin Exchange

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has apprehended a businessman from the state of New Jersey had been apprehended for operating an illegal Bitcoin exchange.

Green Ran Bitcoin Exchange Without License

Per the announcement made by Acting US Attorney Rachel A. Honig, the culprit is a 53-year old New Jersey resident named William Green.

Green is said to have pleaded guilty in a video conference call before the US District Judge Kevin McNulty to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

According to court documents, Green operated a “Destination Bitcoin” website from August 2017 through Feb. 2019.

He received funds from the investing public through his website and referrals. Interested members could pay through cash, wire transfers, and e-Wallet payment options into Green’s bank accounts.

Green then converted the received funds into Bitcoin and transferred the digital asset into the wallet addresses owned by his sponsors. Green charged a conversion fee for his service.

Green admitted to being aware of federal regulations that required registration with the Treasury Secretary but chose not to do so.

Penalty for the crime attracts a maximum fine of $250,000 and a five-year jail term, according to the DoJ.

In a similar case, an Ontario man residing in San Bernardino County of the United States was arrested for operating an illegal crypto trading business. According to the DoJ, Hugo Sergio Mejia faced a two-count indictment for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and money laundering charges.

Mejia is said to have run his business between May 2018 and September 2020, where he exchanged millions of dollars in Bitcoin and cash. He is said to have charged undisclosed fees for his racketeering business. When questioned if he registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) before opening shop, Mejia said he failed to do so.

During the stated period, Mejia created pseudo companies to hide his identity.

Some of them filed are Worldwide Secure Communications LLC, World Secure Data, and the HODL Group LLC. Mejia stayed in touch with his customers through encrypted messaging platforms and met them in public places.

He was apprehended through a covert operation by a law enforcement agent who exchanged cash for Bitcoin on five separate occasions.

Crypto Spring Leading To Increased Crime Rate

The continued rise of crypto is bringing different elements into emerging technology. Even as the nascent industry surges north of $2 trillion, several issues are cropping up regularly.

Pseudonymity associated with crypto assets like Bitcoin has seen world governments kick against its adoption.

Even though distributed ledger technology (DLT) allows transactions done on the blockchain to be publicly visible, it can sometimes be difficult to associate a real-life user’s wallet address.

These and many other volatility issues have seen critics, and some countries call for immediate regulation of the crypto space.

European Central Bank (ECB) boss Christine Lagarde is a known detractor of anything crypto.

She has constantly pointed to the underlying challenges Bitcoin brings to financial regulators. According to her, Bitcoin has become a convenient channel through which money launders, terrorist financiers, and tax evaders use to commit crimes. This, to her, calls for immediate regulation of the sector.

With the sector just gaining mainstream acceptance, nefarious elements have seemingly moved their trade into the crypto space. In a Chainalysis report, over $2 billion was lost in crypto-related crimes in 2019. A subsequent data released by the analytics firm showed another alarming rise in ransomware attacks leading to losses of crypto-assets.

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