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Bitcoin Phishing Scheme Perpetrator Pleads Guilty in Connecticut Court

A Connecticut resident has pleaded guilty to charges that he stole more than $300,000 in bitcoin as part of a phishing scheme.

Jun 29, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:29 p.m. UTC

A Connecticut resident pleaded guilty this week to fraud and money laundering offenses committed as part of an elaborate effort to steal cryptocurrency.

In Hartford Federal Court on Tuesday, 35-year-old Michael Richo of Wallingford, Connecticut, admitted to stealing $365,000 in bitcoin  through a phishing scheme in which he posted fraudulent links designed to resemble popular dark market websites, according to a release from the US Department of Justice.

Prosecutors found he later used this information to monitor the bitcoin accounts and balances of victims. Richo admitted he stole over 10,000 usernames and passwords in such a method, using these to sell the victims' assets on bitcoin exchange platforms for US currency.

No details were provided as to the nature of the accounts that were compromised, and whether they were software wallets (in which the users controlled their funds) or hosted wallet services (where the bitcoins in question were maintained by a company).

Still, the guilty plea advances a case that began when Richo was arrested last October on charges of computer fraud, wire fraud and identity theft. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of device fraud – charges that carry a maximum sentence of 30 years of imprisonment.

Richo is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Gavel and handcuffs image via Shutterstock

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