An Ontario man based in San Bernardino County in the US has agreed to be guilty of federal charges of illegally operating a bitcoin counter-exchange company. According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the man, Hugo Sergio Mejia, 49, conducted the unregistered exchange activities between May 2018 and September 2020.
Accordingly, Mejia is now facing “a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison” once he pleads guilty. In a statement In announcing the allegations, the DOJ says that, as part of his plea deal, Mejia admitted that he “had not registered his company with FinCEN.”
The DOJ explains in the statement that Mejia managed to convert at least $ 13 million in the “nearly 2½ years” period. However, as part of his efforts to hide his true activity, Mejia also admits that he has created companies specifically for this purpose. Furthermore, the DOJ statement adds:
Mejia advertised his business online and was referred to customers through word of mouth, communicated with them through encrypted messaging services, and met them in person at coffee shops, the settlement agreement said.
However, after Mejia “completed five bitcoin-to-cash transactions that totaled more than $ 250,000,” his activities came to light. According to the DOJ, Mejia’s client apparently cooperated with the police, leading to his arrest.
In the meantime, the DOJ says as part of the settlement agreement, Mejia will “forfeit all assets resulting from the illegal conduct, including $ 233,987 in cash seized from properties in Santa Ana and Ontario.” Silver coins and bars and approximately $ 95,587 in various cryptocurrencies will also be forfeited to the state.
What do you think about the prison sentence that Mejia is expected to serve when he pleads the charges? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons