United States Department of Justice (DOJ) charged six individuals with participating in a “conspiracy to operate an unlicensed” cryptocurrency exchange business” among other offenses.
Five of those charged were also indicted with wire fraud, while one was charged with money laundering and allegedly “operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise.”
The individuals were aged between 34 and 60 years and went by the following names: Ian Freeman (formerly Ian Bernard), Colleen Fordham, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, Nobody (formerly Richard Paul), and Aria DiMezzo (formerly James Baker).
The indictment read that since 2016, the aforementioned people operated the alleged crypto business that enabled customers to exchange “over ten million dollars in fiat” for cryptocurrency, which included a service fee. Their online crypto exchange business was apparently based out of New Hampshire and even involved the use of Bitcoin ATM machines. The individuals “knowingly” operated the unlicensed exchange, which violated federal anti-money laundering laws in US.
DOJ also claimed that some of the alleged perpetrators had bank accounts in the names of purported religious entities. The operators of the exchange apparently evaded detection by misleading financial institutions into believing their business was instead a “religious organization receiving charitable contributions.”
The name of the exchange remains unknown however, all of the defendants were arrested in a coordinated law enforcement action.