Hugo Sergio Mejia, a 49-year-old man, pled guilty to charges of running an unlicensed company that illegally exchanged millions of dollars in Bitcoin for fiats and vice versa.
According to the guilty plea agreement submitted on Friday, Mejia pled guilty to the two charges against him for running an unlicensed money transmitting business and money laundering between May 2018 and September 2020. He is expected to plead guilty in court next month and is looking at a maximum of twenty-five years in prison.
Mejia’s unlicensed business exchanged around $13 million worth of cash and crypto in the two-and-a-half-year period and made money by charging commissions.
Mejia advertised his business on various online platforms, and he gained customers from the old-yet-effective method, word-of-the-month. He used encrypted messaging platforms to communicate with clients and conducted several in-person meets.
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A Well Laid Out Case
To build the case against Mejia, a law enforcement representative disguised themself as one of the clients willing to exchange Bitcoin for cash and completed five transactions. The transaction value between them exceeded over $250,000, and Mejia was informed that the digital currencies were gained from a methamphetamine buyer in Australia.
Along with the charges brought against him, the perpetrator agreed to forfeit all assets gained from the illegal operation. This includes $233,987 in seized cash and silver coins and bars, along with cryptocurrencies valued at around $95,587.
The United States law enforcement has become vigilant in busting crimes involving cryptocurrencies. Last week, another San Francisco man was jailed for embezzling over $20 million from his crypto startup clients. Along with the six months in prison, he was ordered to pay another $4.39 million as a restitution penalty.