The FBI is taking tough stand on Bitcoin exchanges that are being used for money laundering. The latest action is against Anthony R. Murgio and Yuri Lebedev of West Palm Beach Florida. The duo has been arrested for running an unlicensed Bitcoin exchange with the goal of helping individuals launder money.
According to the press release the FBI the two men are being charged for operating this exchange through a “phony front-company and, at times, a federal credit union that Murgio acquired for purposes of the scheme.” The FBI says that since at least late 2014, Murgio, Lebedev, and their co-conspirators have knowingly operated Coin.mx.
The investigating agency says that Coin.MX, a Bitcoin exchange service, was being operated in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations, including those requiring money services businesses like Coin.mx to meet registration and reporting requirements. From the action it looks like tough days are ahead for Bitcoin exchanges who are laundering money.
The agency has also charged that Coin.MX knowingly exchanged cash for people who they believed may be engaging in criminal activity. According to the press release one particular form of criminal activity was exchanging cash for Bitcoin for those that had been attacked by ransomware.
The FBI informs that when this occurs, a user’s computer is completely blocked until the “ransom” is paid. Nonetheless, as the agency says that Bitcoin has become an easy way to make these payments due to its anonymous nature, they estimate that between October 2013 and January 2015, Coin.mx exchanged at least $1.8 million of Bitcoin for tens of thousands of customers.
Bitcoin has often been blamed for being used for Money Laundering
According to the press release from the FBI the two men have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Additionally, it has been told that each of these charges can result in a maximum sentence of five years.
Murgio has also been charged with one count of money laundering due to hundreds of thousands of dollars sent to bank accounts in Cyprus, Hong Kong, and Europe. This means he can be sentenced for a maximum imprisonment of 20 years. Bitcoin has been blamed for a money laundering; this case will further enhance the accusation from the governments.
To contact the reporter of this story: Deepak Tiwari at firstname.lastname@example.org