This story is wild. The list of seized goods is wilder. In the District of New Hampshire, the police arrested a few people who were trading cryptocurrencies disregarding AML and KYC regulations or procedures. Apparently, “between May 25, 2016 and March 15, 2021, the defendants traded over $10,000,000 in cryptocurrency for clients across the United States.” It depends darknetlivewhich specifies:
“In March 2021, a grand jury returned a 20-count indictment charging Ian Freeman, Colleen Fordham, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, “Nobody” (formerly Richard Paul) and Aria DiMezzo with an assortment of financial crimes related to operating a “virtual currency exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations, including those that require money transfer businesses to comply with registration requirements and declaration”.
Both Freeman and DiMezzo have been charged with “operating an unlicensed money transfer business”, as well as wire fraud, money laundering and attempted tax evasion. Apparently they “knowingly processed and profited from transactions made by fraudsters and scammers”.
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This is just the aperitif of the story. Meat and potatoes are the way they did, and dessert is the wild list of seized goods.
How did Freeman and DiMezzo work?
the the indictment provides the necessary context for this story of seized goods:
“Defendants IAN FREEMAN and ARIA DIMEZZO and others operated their illegal virtual currency trading business through two primary means. First, they advertised the sale of virtual currency online through websites such as LocalBitcoins .com Second, they operated virtual currency ATMs, or kiosks, located in the district of New Hampshire.
So far, so good. The fact is, the defendants avoided discovery by opening “bank accounts in the name of religious entities, including the Shire Free Church, the Crypto Church of NH, the Church of the Invisible Hand, and the Satanic Church. reformed”. They mislead “the banks on the nature of their activity. In some cases, the defendants allegedly deceived banks into believing that their cryptocurrency exchange business was a religious organization receiving charitable contributions.
Apparently they asked their customers to say they were donating money to charity or trying to buy rare coins. Which brings us to the list of seized assets. You won’t believe it.
BTC price chart for 04/28/2022 on Gemini | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com
The incredible list of seized goods
So far it looks like a medium sized company. Freeman and DiMezzo used a medium-sized website like Localbitcoins and operated a few ATMs. How much money could they handle? According to Darknetlive, $10 million in total, right? Well, apparently, in addition to cash, gold bars and platinum, gold and silver coins; the seized assets that the government obtained were:
6.124429323 BTC seized from Ian Freeman;
315.44728106 DASH, seized from Ian Freeman;
A physical Bitcoin Casascius “1 BTC” seized from Ian Freeman’s safe;
A physical Casascius Bitcoin “100 BTC” “gold-plated bearer bar” seized from Ian Freeman’s safe;
.9999783 BCH of physical ‘1 BTC’ Casascius Bitcoin seized from Ian Freeman’s vault;
.99909638 BTC of physical ‘1 BTC’ Casascius Bitcoin seized from Ian Freeman’s vault;
99.99993098 BCH of physical ‘100 BTC’ Casascius Bitcoin seized from Ian Freeman’s safe;
99.99765508 BTC of physical ‘100 BTC’ Casascius Bitcoin seized from Ian Freeman’s safe;
According to to this site, Casascious coins are “the physical form of bitcoin, protected by a tamper-proof hologram and redeemable by the secret key hidden under the hologram”. Apparently, there are “61,560+ physical Bitcoin Casascius addresses”. Another key thing about them is that they can become seized property.
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What can we learn from this case, however? Well, this bitcoin is not a good tool for criminals. The indictment doesn’t mention how they caught Freeman and DiMezzo, but let’s assume it was through good old police work. Well, the blockchain contains an immutable record of all their activities. Their customers should be shaking right now.
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