U.S. Charges Man for Operating Illegal Bitcoin Exchange

TL;DR Breakdown

  • Hugo Sergio Mejia faces up to 25 years in jail for operating an illegal Bitcoin exchange.

  • US authorities say he exchanged over $10million worth of crypto assets.

  • He agrees to forfeit proceeds from this illegal business to the authorities.

Authorities in the United States have charged an Ontario man, Hugo Sergio Mejia, with running an illegal Bitcoin exchange in the country. According to the prosecutors, he has agreed to plead guilty to the charges and face up to 25 years in jail.

Mejia made over $10 million from illegal Bitcoin Exchange

In his plea agreement, the 49 years old admitted that he exchanged over $10 million worth of Bitcoin and other crypto-assets. He also admitted that he never registered his activities with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). FinCEN is a financial regulator in the states saddled with combating money laundering and other financial crimes.

To cover his illegal activities, Mejia set up other companies like Worldwide Secure Communications, World Secure Data, and The HODL Group. He also depended heavily on advertising his services on the web while also counting on his past clients’ referrals for new customers. 

Per the report, he has agreed to forfeit all assets derived from the illegal activities, including over $200,000 in cash found in Santa Ana and Ontario and close to $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

How he was nabbed

An undercover agent of the government met with Mejia in 2019, and they immediately struck up a business understanding where he helped the agent exchange Bitcoin for cash. 

The Department of Justice (DoJ) also said that their work relationship resulted in transactions that exceed $250,000. At some point, the government agent was said to have told Mejia that his major customer was a methamphetamine buyer in Australia.

Illegal exchange activities tend to attract the authorities’ attention because they are mostly used to carry out illegal activities like money laundering and the rest.

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