DoJ charges 6 with running illegal $10M digital currency business

DoJ charges 6 with running illegal $10M digital currency business

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged six people with operating an unregistered money transmitting business. The six also face other charges including wire fraud for the business, which enabled customers to convert fiat currency to digital currencies.

Among the six facing the charges is ‘Nobody’, a 52-year old resident from Keene, New Hampshire. Nobody was born Richard Paul, but decided to change his name before eventually running for mayor. Nobody has a long criminal record that includes criminal trespass and drug charges, authorities said.

Another public figure also facing the charges is Aria DiMezzo, whom local outlets describe as a “trans-woman anarchist who is also founder of a satanic church.” DiMezzo won the race to become the Republican candidate for Cheshire County Sheriff in 2020, but she lost in the elections.

The other four are Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, Colleen Fordham and Ian Freeman. Freeman, host of the Free Talk Live radio show, also faces charges of money laundering and operating a continuing financial crime enterprise.

As per the DoJ indictment, the six have operated their illegal enterprise since 2016. In that time, they have enabled their customers to convert over $10 million worth of fiat currencies into digital currencies. They would receive a fee for their service. They did this through a virtual exchange that operated on several websites. They also operated digital currency ATMs in New Hampshire.

“The indictment alleges that the defendants knowingly operated the virtual currency exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations,” the DoJ said.

Investigators said some of the defendants opened bank accounts in the names of purported religious entities. They used these accounts to mislead financial institutions and law enforcement authorities that they were a religious organization receiving charitable contributions. In addition, they allegedly instructed their customers to lie about their digital currency purchases, in some cases asking them to falsely claim the payments were donations to the defendants’ church.

The indictment comes after the FBI raided a number of premises in New Hampshire associated with Free Keene, a libertarian-style group that describes itself as a peaceful revolution.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups-from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple and 
Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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