US Resident Operated Illegal Bitcoin Exchange Business

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An Ontario man based in the US state of San Bernardino has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of illegally exchanging a bitcoin for cash. According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), 49-year-old Hugo Sergio Mejia operated the unregistered stock exchange business between May 2018 and September 2020.

Accordingly, Mejia now faces “a maximum statutory sentence of 25 years in federal prison” as soon as he pleads guilty. In a statement announcing the prosecution, the DOJ said Mejia admitted that he “did not register his business with FinCEN” as part of his defense.

The DOJ said in the statement that Mejia managed to exchange at least $ 13 million during the “almost two and a half year period”. However, as part of an effort to hide what he really is doing, Mejia also admits that he founded companies specifically for this purpose. The DOJ statement also adds:

Mejia advertised his business online and was referred to customers orally, communicated with them via encrypted messaging services, and met them face-to-face in coffee shops, the agreement says.

However, after Mejia “conducted five bitcoin cash transactions that cumulatively exceeded $ 250,000,” its activities were disclosed. According to the DOJ, Mejia’s client appeared to have been cooperating with law enforcement agencies, which led to his arrest.

Meanwhile, the DOJ said, under the plea agreement, Mejia will “forfeit all assets arising from the illegal conduct, including $ 233,987 in cash confiscated from homes in Santa Ana and Ontario.” Silver coins and bars and around USD 95,587 in various crypto currencies also expire to the state.

What do you think of the prison sentence Mejia is expected to serve if he relies on the charges? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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