Business 7 January 2019

Erik Gibbs

US agents raid tech center over illegal crypto exchange

Michigan-based news outlet Wood TV reported a couple of days ago that a local science and tech center was targeted during a raid by federal officials in December. The law enforcement activity came after the company was allegedly found to be running an illegal cryptocurrency exchange. The company’s staff probably didn’t expect to spend their Christmas participating in interrogations. 

According to the news outlet, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security raided the offices of The Geek Group on December 21. They seized computers and other equipment, but more details surrounding the event have yet to be released. 

The company’s founder, Chris Boden, published a live public statement on YouTube this past Saturday, which has now apparently been pulled. He acknowledged that his company, which is reportedly a tech-oriented non-profit, had been raided by law enforcement after it was found to be “commercially trading in [cryptocurrency] without proper authorization.” He added that he could face fines and legal expenses of as much as $100,000, as well as a federal prison sentence. 

Boden, in a colorful tirade full of not-safe-for-work language, accepted responsibility for what he had done and took the blame for the business being shut down by authorities. He states, “I did a stupid thing, I made a bad decision, so I’m going to pay for it.”

He argues that the business wasn’t able to cover its expenses, forcing him to look for some creative methods to generate funds. He states in a Facebook post from yesterday, “The problem is, we never found a way to do it and make enough of a revenue to sustain it. We tried, some of us for decades, and ultimately failed. We’ve been broke as a joke for years and stumbled through, but with the recent PR hit by from being raided by four different Federal agencies while being unable to actually tell people the truth about why, we’ve finally hit the wall.”

Boden added that he would provide a live public statement through a Google Doc that would be accessible to everyone. His statement isn’t very profound, as it only reads, “On the advice of legal counsel I will not comment further on the Government [sic] investigation.”

The Geek Group organization was founded 1994. It offered low-cost computers to families, as well as served as an incubator for local innovation. All of the assets of the business, including the building where it operated, will be sold.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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