An American has pleaded guilty to being part of a criminal ring targeting the elderly and vulnerable. The criminals operated romance and lottery scams, with the man facilitating transactions for them through BTC.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Austin Nedved admitted in federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts, that he ran a company in which he bought and sold BTC for cash. He advertised his services on LocalBitcoins.com and Paxful. The Northborough resident operated his business from 2017 to 2019, helping romance and lottery scammers defraud unsuspecting victims, authorities said.
Investigators said the crooks were posing as romantic interests on online platforms to defraud their victims. In one particular case, an individual posing as “Jonathan G” deceived a 78-year-old victim into believing he was a Massachusetts businessman. He led the victim to believe he would marry her. Months after their online romance began, Jonathan G lied that his oil company had been in an accident and needed money to rebuild it.
The victim was taken to Nedved who sold his BTC worth $ 100,000, which she then sent to fraudster Jonathan G.
The DoJ said, “When Nedved accepted $ 100,000 from the victim, Nedved knew or was willfully blind to the fact that the victim was a victim of love scam.”
In lottery schemes, crooks have lured victims with promises of lottery wins or large government grants, authorities said. To achieve this, victims had to pay “administrative fees” to fraudsters.
“In total, Nedved and his co-conspirators, in exchange for payment, converted over $ 630,000 in cash into Bitcoin which they received from other people, knowing that the money was the product of scams. romance and lottery and other illegal activities. “
For aiding and abetting wire fraud, Nedved faces up to 20 years in prison, three years on probation and a fine of up to $ 500,000. The money laundering charge will also put him in jail for 20 years, if convicted, and three years on supervised release.
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