California District Judge Sentences Bitcoin Trader To Two Years In Prison

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff sentenced U.S. citizen Jacob Burrell Campos of Rosarito, Mexico to serve two years in prison and forfeit all illicit profits generated from operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. He was arrested on August 13 last year and has been in custody without bail since then.

Burrell pleaded guilty on October 29, 2018, and admitted to operating a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury, and without implementing the required anti-money laundering safeguards.

He generated illicit profits of $823,357, which he will forfeit, from the unlicensed money transmitting business by selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to over 1,000 customers throughout the United States.

Burrell is said to have advertised his business on Localbitcoins.com, and communicated with his customers through email and text messages, often using encrypted applications. He negotiated a commission of 5 percent above the prevailing exchange rate, and accepted cash in person, through nationwide ATMs, and through MoneyGram.

Burrell admitted that he had no anti-money laundering or “know your customer” program, and performed no due diligence on the source of his customers’ money.

Explaining his modus operandi, Burrell said he began by purchasing his supply of Bitcoin through a U.S.-based, regulated exchange, but his account was soon closed because of the large number of suspicious transactions.

He then moved over to deal with a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange to buy a total of $3.29 million in Bitcoin, in hundreds of separate transactions, between March 2015 and April 2017.

Burrell provided his clients with anonymity and privacy, and exchanged over $1 million in unregulated cash.

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said, “The federal government will continue to investigate and prosecute all white collar criminals who refuse to comply with the anti-money laundering laws of the United States, and who assist others in avoiding scrutiny of their ill-gotten gains.”

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