A bitcoin entrepreneur who pitched an elaborate vision for a cryptocurrency Utopia in the Nevada high desert pleaded guilty to wire fraud in San Diego federal court Thursday, admitting he sold land he never owned to investors.
Morgan Rockcoons also pleaded guilty to conducting an unlicensed money transmitter business, a charge that stems from a bitcoin-for-cash sale with an undercover U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agent.
It was Rockcoons’ bitcoin exchange services, openly advertised online, that first drew the attention of federal agents in 2015.
Under federal law, exchangers of bitcoin — a long string of code with monetary value — are treated the same as money transmitters and must be registered as such with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the arm of the U.S. Treasury Department that works to combat money laundering with regulations. Exchangers must also know the identity of their customers and report any transactions over $10,000 to the government.
At the end of 2016, the undercover agent posed as a hash oil manufacturer who needed to buy equipment in bitcoin — a currency preferred by criminal organizations because it is hard to trace. Rockcoons admitted in his plea agreement that he transferred about $9,200 in bitcoin to the agent for $14,500 in cash, taking the remainder as a transaction fee.
Read the original article here: sandiegouniontribune.com
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