A Central Mass man has been accused of using Bitcoin to launder profits from the sale of illegal items such as knock-off Gucci bags.
On Thursday, March 4, Alan Joseph 32, of Fitchburg, was indicted by a grand jury on the charges of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and 4 counts of money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Massachusetts, said.
From August 2020 to February 2021, Joseph allegedly engaged in 4 financial transactions in which he used money he thought had been obtained through the sale of contraband and turned it into Bitcoin as a way to make the source of the funds less easy to trace.
Bitcoin is a form of virtual currency, or cryptocurrency, that has no physical form and is traded exclusively online.
It turns out, Joseph had allegedly been doing business with an undercover agent.
In one instance, on Aug. 12, 2020, Joseph allegedly converted about $12,000 in cash to Bitcoin for an undercover agent who Joseph thought was selling counterfeit Gucci products from China, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
On Oct. 28, 2020, Joseph allegedly converted $25,000 in cash to Bitcoin for the same undercover agent. This time, the agent said the money was from “rich housewives” who purchased “fake” items, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Joseph never registered his alleged monetary transmission business with the Department of Treasury.
If found guilty, the charge of money laundering has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The charge of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business provides for a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The agencies that participated in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of Joseph include the FBI, Homeland Security, IRS, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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