If you want to conduct illegal activity, it’s best not to leave a trail of any sort that can prove your involvement. A Russian rapper residing in California has learned this lesson the hard way after being arrested by the FBI. The federal law enforcement agency picked up Maksim Boiko and accused him of laundering money through digital currency exchanges and transactions, allegedly while doing little to hide his identity.
Court documents released (in pdf) on March 30 indicate that Boiko conducted his extra-curricular activities using platforms such as the now-defunct BTC-e digital currency exchange, a portal that was also shut down for money laundering. The documents also show that Boiko allegedly has ties to QQAAZZ, an organized crime syndicate that operates in several countries around the world.
The rapper’s downfall began when he showed up at Miami International Airport this past January. At that time, he had $20,000 in cash, which is twice the amount allowed to be carried across borders without a written declaration of the source of the funds. It isn’t clear if Boiko presented a declaration or not, but he was questioned about the money and explained that it came from digital currency investments and rental properties.
The explanation was not received with a great deal of credibility, and an investigation began. Subsequently, Boko was picked up by authorities in Miami toward the end of last month. He is charged with “knowingly and intentionally conspire and agree with other persons known and unknown, to commit money laundering in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h).”
In building its case against Boiko, the FBI was able to come across several interesting finds. It was able to determine that he had registered an email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, using his own name and created a username of gangass. That username was also picked up on several underground communications channels used predominantly for criminal activities.
In addition, Boiko had been a little too willing to brag about the amount of money he had in his possession on several occasions, posting pictures of himself holding huge stacks of bills, and even one that appeared to show him getting ready to launder funds through a Chinese bank account. He didn’t appear in the picture, but a placard with “Maksim” and a screenshot of a “plinofficial” account on Instagram are clearly seen.
Boiko apparently had greater success as a criminal than he did as a rapper, but everything he did made it easy for law enforcement to conduct its investigation. As a rapper, he uses the moniker Plinofficial.
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