Crypto-linked scammer in US busted on wire fraud charges

Private, not anonymous. That’s how Bitcoin operates and how it was always meant to operate. More individuals are beginning to come to this realization, especially those who thought they would never be caught for conducting illicit activity through cryptocurrency. As digital forensics experts can now more easily follow the crypto trails, more arrests of scammers and fraudsters are being made and one recent case comes via New Jersey. A woman who thought she could get away with identity theft by hiding in the crypto shadows has learned how wrong she was.

According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Fort Lee, New Jersey resident Briana Burford has admitted to her involvement in a scheme to make, or attempt to make, purchases of over $300,000 using stolen financial account information. The 25-year-old has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and will now have to live in suspense until she returns to court for her sentencing.

The DOJ explains in the release, “From October 2018 through December 2018, Burford made four Bitcoin transactions. The Bitcoin were sent to accounts associated with carding websites, which are websites that engage in the trafficking of stolen or otherwise illegally obtained credit card, bank account and other personal identification information, as well as services and tools that one can use to engage in fraudulent activity.”

Investigators were able to determine that there were several phone numbers used for the transactions and that two of them had been used to make inquiries about specific bank accounts that were subsequently compromised. The activity was traced back to Bergen through the phone numbers and the crypto transactions.

Depending on how hard the sentencing judge wants to throw the book at her, Burford is looking at up to 20 years behind bars and a fine for $250,000. She could, alternatively, be required to pay a fine that is “twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.” Burford will find out when she heads back to court on March 4.

It bears repeating – private, not anonymous. Bitcoin is not anonymous, and it is easier than ever to track transactions. There have already been numerous examples of this, like the tracking of Iranian nationals through their digital currency trails and the massive porn ring bust announced last month. 337 people in countries around the world were arrested for their involvement in the activity after being traced through their purchases made with digital currency to a child exploitation website.

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