A crypto trader from the Northborough US Austin Nedved has been charged with knowingly laundering $630,000 in proceeds from victims of romance and lottery scams via decentralized exchanges.
According to the Massachusetts Office of the U.S Department of Justice, that 29-year-old Nedved pleaded guilty to buying and selling Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on LocalBitcoins and Paxful. Nedved further admitted to having been working with the romance and lottery scams between 2017 and 2019, targeting the most vulnerable victims including elderly people.
“Despite knowing or being willfully blind to the fact that his customers were fraud victims, Nedved sold Bitcoin to them so that they could send money overseas to the fraudsters.”
Romance schemes persuade their victims to send money abroad to their non-existent romantic interests. Lottery schemes promise their victims better chances of winning the lottery or government grants if they send administrative or expense fees to the fraudsters.
“From 2017 through 2019, Nedved aided and abetted romance and lottery schemes targeting vulnerable victims.”
Nedved and co-conspirators converted over $630,000 in cash to Bitcoin
The court ascertained that on June 25, 2018, Nedved met with a 78-year old victim of a romance scam in a park and agreed to help them exchange a cashier’s check of approximately $100,000 in bitcoin. The victim had met a romance scammer on social media posing as Jonathan G, an oil businessman who convinced the victim that his oil company located abroad had suffered an accident.
The victim was then persuaded to send Bitcoin so that the businessman can get back to the US and marry the victim. Nedved deducted his commission and sent the private keys of the bitcoin address to the individual named “Jonathan G.”
Again, on June 29, 2018, Nedved and a co-conspirator took $40,000 more from the same victim. The court further said that Nedved and other co-conspirators converted over $630,000 in cash that they received from other people into Bitcoin from schemes and other illegal activities.
“They then either returned the proceeds in Bitcoin to the source of the cash of forwarded the Bitcoin proceeds to unidentified third parties.”
Nedved faces up to 20 years in prison
For aiding and abetting wire fraud, Nedved could be sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and up to $250,000 in fines. For money laundering, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.