‘Doctor Bitcoin’ Pleads Guilty to Running Illegal Crypto Exchange in US, Faces 5 Years in Prison
A Texas man, who calls himself “Doctor Bitcoin,” has pleaded guilty to running an illegal cryptocurrency exchange business, converting cash to bitcoin. He faces five years in federal prison.
Crypto Exchange Operator Pleads Guilty
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday that a Texas resident, Mark Alexander Hopkins, has pleaded guilty to “illegally operating a cash-to-cryptocurrency conversion business.”
The 42-year-old man, who calls himself “Doctor Bitcoin,” pleaded guilty to one count of operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business. Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah detailed:
This defendant ignored federal law and allowed fraudsters to use bitcoin to operate under the radar of law enforcement. We are determined to rid the bitcoin marketplace of anyone who knowingly helps criminal actors stash illegal profits inside crypto wallets.
Hopkins admitted to running a cryptocurrency exchange business, converting U.S. dollars to cryptocurrency, primarily bitcoin, for a fee. He also admitted that he frequently sent BTC to customers’ crypto wallets without taking additional steps in verifying the source of the cash.
Court documents show that Hopkins helped a customer identified as “M.H.” convert U.S. dollars from a lottery scam he was running in Nigeria to bitcoin. Over the course of about a year, he conducted 37 transactions with the scammer converting between $550,000 and $1.5 million.
According to the DOJ:
Hopkins admitted he promised not to get involved in the details of M.H’s business dealings, but told M.H. how to circumvent financial institution reporting requirements by keeping deposits under $9,500, and directed M.H. to lie to financial institutions about the purpose of the business.
Hopkins admitted that he was not licensed to conduct a crypto exchange business in the state, and was not registered as a money transmitting business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Noting that the defendant “failed to follow federal laws that require money transmitting businesses to verify customers’ names, date of birth, and address – a law aimed at identifying those engaged in unlawful activity – and failed to file currency transaction reports for high-value cash-in transactions,” the DOJ stated:
Hopkins now faces up to five years in federal prison.
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