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Ex-Microsoft engineer involved in $10M BTC fraud get 9 years

A former Microsoft engineer will be spending nine years in prison after he was found guilty of defrauding his employer $10 million. He becomes the first person to be convicted in a BTC-related case that involves tax fraud, the Internal Revenue Service has revealed.

Volodymyr Kwashuk joined Microsoft in August 2016 and was part of the team that trialed the company’s online retail sales platform. As per the Justice Department, Kwashuk took advantage of his testing access to steal currency stored value (CSV) such as digital gift cards worth $10 million. He was fired in June 2018 after his crime came to light.

The 25-year-old Ukrainian resident will now be spending the next 9 years in prison for his crimes. Kwashuk, a Washington resident, was sentenced following a five-day jury trial. After five hours of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict, with the District Court of Seattle handing him the sentence.

In February this year, Kwashuk was convicted of 18 federal felonies. They included five counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, six counts of money laundering and one count each of access device fraud and access to a protected computer in furtherance of fraud.

The court further found Kwashuk guilty of two counts of filing false tax returns. As revealed by IRS Special Agent in Charge Ryan Korner, this is the first time that the U.S. has sentenced an individual to prison over tax-related cryptocurrency fraud.

Agent Korner remarked, “The Volodymyr Kvashuk trial marked a big win for IRS-CI and the federal cybercrimes team. Kvashuk’s criminal act of stealing from Microsoft, and subsequent filing false tax returns, is the nation’s first Bitcoin case that has a tax component to it.”

In addition to his prison sentence, the court ordered Kwashuk to pay $8,344,586 in restitution. The sentencing may lead to his deportation to his home country of Ukraine as well.

According to the DoJ, Kwashuk started off by stealing small amounts of digital currencies, totaling about $12,000 using his own account access. He then started using test email accounts associated with his colleagues. To mask his crime, he used a BTC mixing service. Having stolen over $10 million, he used $1.6 million on a lakefront home and $160,000 on a Tesla vehicle.

U.S. Attorney Brian Moran remarked, “Stealing from your employer is bad enough, but stealing and making it appear that your colleagues are to blame widens the damage beyond dollars and cents.”

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