Bitcoin Launderer Ordered to Pay $3.5M Restitution to Scam Victims

Crime, News | March 5, 2024 By:

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire ordered Ian Freeman to pay over $3.5 million in restitution to victims of his Bitcoin money laundering scheme.

Freeman, a 43-year-old man from Keene, New Hampshire, was convicted in December 2022 for operating a business that laundered over $10 million obtained through various online scams. His business exchanged US dollars for bitcoin without following proper regulations aimed at preventing money laundering. By failing to register as required, disabling customer verification measures, and not inquiring about how customers would use Bitcoin, Freeman created an operation that catered to criminal actors perpetrating romance scams and other internet frauds.

Through his actions, Freeman profited over $1 million by charging large fees for the bitcoin exchanges. No taxes were paid on this income, which was concealed from the IRS. As part of the scheme, Freeman instructed scam victims to lie to banks by posing church donations when depositing funds. Several sham churches were established for this purpose, including the Shire Free Church.

Judge Joseph Laplante ordered Freeman to pay $3,502,708.69 in restitution to 29 identified victims impacted by his schemes. Many victims were elderly individuals who lost significant sums to romance scams. While monetary compensation cannot undo the emotional toll, prosecutors hoped it would provide some relief. Freeman was also ordered to forfeit illicit proceeds seized during the investigation.

In addition to restitution, Freeman had previously been sentenced to 96 months in prison as well as fines and supervised release. The FBI, IRS, US Postal Inspection Service, and DOJ collaborated to investigate and prosecute the complex case involving Bitcoin and international criminal networks. Officials warned the public about romance scams and protecting vulnerable people from similar exploitation.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.