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Criminal

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In December 2019, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia indicted Larry Dean Harmon for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in violation of the District of Columbia’s Money Transmitters Act (MTA). He was charged in connection with his alleged operation of Helix, an underground tumbler for bitcoin. As described in the indictment, Helix “enabled customers, for a fee, to send bitcoins to designated recipients in a manner which was designed to conceal and…

On July 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Kais Mohammad, a.k.a. “Superman29,” agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges that he operated an illegal virtual-currency money services business that exchanged up to $25 million – including on behalf of criminals – through in-person transactions and a network of Bitcoin ATM-type kiosks. According to his plea agreement, from December 2014 to November 2019, Mohammad owned and operated Herocoin, an illegal virtual-currency money…

In the context of a search warrant in a criminal case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States held that the virtual currency exchange Coinbase was like a “traditional bank.” The details of the case, U.S. v Gratkowski, Case No. 19-50492 (5th Cir. June 30, 2020), are as follows. Richard Gratkowski became the subject of a federal investigation when federal agents began investigating a child-pornography website. To download material from the website,…

On November 6, 2019, U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced charges against Asa Saint Clair for his participation in an investment scheme tied to a purported digital coin offering called IGOBIT.  Saint Clair allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud victims into providing loans tied to the launch of IGOBIT by World Sports Alliance, a purported intergovernmental organization focused on promoting international development through sports, and falsely promised investors guaranteed returns…

On April 8, 2019, Jacob Burrell Campos of Rosarito, Mexico, was sentenced to two years in prison and to forfeit USD 823,357 in illicit profits for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in connection with his sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to over 1,000 customers throughout the United States.  Burrell, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty, admitting that he operated a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)…