A 24-year-old trader based in Chicago, Illinois, has been charged by the United States’ federal government with wire fraud for the theft of $2.06 million in Bitcoin and Litecoin from his employer.
According to Reuters, Joseph Kim is the first individual in the city’s history to be facing possible criminal prosecution for a crime ‘involving the cryptocurrency trading industry.’
Prior to being charged, Kim worked as an assistant trader at Consolidated Trading LLC, which describes itself as a ‘proprietary trading firm specializing in agricultural, currency, energy, ETF, equity, fixed income and index derivative products.’
The Chicago Sun Times reported that Kim withdrew funds from Consolidated Trading’s accounts and deposited them into his personal accounts. The thefts occurred over a two-month period last year, following Kim’s appointment to the company’s newly-formed crypto trading group in September of 2017.
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The first withdrawal was for 980 LTC (worth $48,000). When a director asked Kim why the funds had been deposited into his personal account, Kim answered that he was using his personal account as “an intermediary holding space” for security reasons.
At the height of the heist, as much as $3.2 million worth of Bitcoin and Litecoin were in Kim’s possession–he eventually returned $1.2 million.
Kim: ‘I Was Perversely Trying to Fix What I Had Already Done’
There is some evidence that Kim eventually intended to return all of the stolen funds–Kim allegedly took the coins to cover his own trading losses. When company officials finally confronted Kim in November, Kim explained through email that “until the end I was perversely trying to fix what I had already done.”
He continued, “I can’t believe I did not stop myself when I had the money to give back, and I will live with that for the rest of my life.”
Another employee at the firm where Kim worked described Kim as a ‘degenerative gambler.’ His behavior certainly indicates struggles with a gambling addiction.
Although Kim’s theft was certainly not a violent crime, there have been a rash of Bitcoin thefts that happened outside of the traditional ‘anonymous hacker’ narrative. Several reports of home invasions and other break-ins involving gunmen and forced BTC transactions have swept through the cryptosphere; hopefully, the trend will end soon.