Anthony R. Murgio, a man accused of co-running the Florida-based bitcoin exchange Coin.mx which shut down amid charges of money laundering and connections to a JP Morgan hack, pleaded guilty to three counts related to cooperating with criminal enterprises and involving in various ransomware schemes, according to a Reuters report.
The plea deal, which was concluded in federal court in Manhattan, saw Murgio pleading guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
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Murgio was not accused of engaging in the hacking offences, but he committed crimes with co-defendants Yuri Lebodev of Florida and Trevon Gross, a New Jersey pastor, in the unlicensed Coin.mx operation. Earlier in September 2016, a federal court ruled that Anthony can’t escape counts of operating an illegal money-transmitting business by questioning bitcoins’ status as funds.
Over the course of the alleged scheme, which ran from 2013 to 2015, the website operated through a federal credit union and several fake fronts, including one called ‘Collectables Club’. The scheme aimed to trick financial institutions into believing it was a members-only group interested in collectables like stamps. They also allegedly helped victims of ransomware attacks to transfer cash into bitcoins without reporting the suspicious transactions to authorities.
In the indictment, prosecutors said that through Coin.mx, the conspirators allowed their customers to exchange cash for bitcoins, charging a fee for their service. In doing so, they did business with people they knew might be engaging in criminal activity. Charges in the cases also included computer hacking, securities and wire fraud, identity theft, illegal Internet gambling and conspiring to commit money laundering.
According to prosecutors, Coin.mx was owned by Gery Shalon, an Israeli accused of masterminding a hacking scheme with another Israeli, Ziv Orenstein, and Maryland-born Joshua Samuel Aaron. Prosecutors said the men operated a criminal enterprise that hacked into a dozen companies’ networks and stole personal data from more than 100 million people.
Five other defendants, including Murgio’s father, are also facing charges in connection with the alleged fraud. Prosecutors say two of the five co-conspirators are scheduled to face trial next month.