California Bitcoin Trader Pleads Guilty To Operating Unlicensed Exchange Business

Crime, News | October 30, 2018 By:

Jacob Burrell Campos, a 21-year-old bitcoin dealer from California, has pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to a news release published by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Campos was arrested in August of this year and was charged with operating an illegal money transmitting business, failing to maintain an anti-money laundering (AML) program, international money laundering and conspiracy to structure monetary transactions. Burrell reportedly purchased his supply of bitcoin through a US-based, regulated exchange, but his account was soon closed because of the large number of suspicious transactions. He then resorted to a crypto exchange in Hong Kong, where he purchased a total of $3.29 million in bitcoin, in hundreds of separate transactions, between March 2015 and April 2017.

According to his plea agreement, Campos admitted to operating a bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and without implementing the required AML safeguards. He also admitted that he smuggled $1 million into the US from Mexico in amounts slightly less than $10,000 in order to avoid the currency reporting requirements.

Campos agreed to forfeit a total of $823,357 to the U.S. and will be sentenced in February 2019. He faces a maximum of five years’ imprisonment.

“Unlicensed money transmitting businesses, especially those operating at or near the border, pose a serious threat to the integrity of the US banking system, and provide an ‘open door’ for criminals to utilize such businesses to launder the proceeds of their illicit activities,” said US Attorney Adam Braverman. “The Department of Justice will continue to investigate and prosecute all individuals and businesses that seek to evade the licensing and anti-money laundering requirements under federal law.”