The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is suing a Philadelphia day trader for alleged fraud, claiming they used bitcoin to hide their profits.
On Oct. 30, the SEC filed suit against Joseph Willner, accusing him of illegally taking over more than 100 brokerage accounts and using the victims' funds to artificially inflate stock prices that he would then trade against advantageously.
In order to hide the profits of those activities, the SEC said, Willner used an unnamed bitcoin exchange to convert the funds from U.S. dollars to bitcoin. Those proceeds were then transferred to another individual, who was not named in the lawsuit.
The agency said in a release:
"To mask his payments to the other individual as part of a profit-sharing arrangement, Willner allegedly transferred proceeds of profitable trades to a digital currency company that converts U.S. dollars to Bitcoin and then transmitted the bitcoins as payment."
According to the complaint, the two made at least $700,000 in profits through the alleged account take-over scheme. The SEC added that its investigation is still ongoing.
The case was investigated through the SEC's Cyber Unit, which was unveiled in September and is aimed in part at crimes involving cryptocurrencies.
"Account takeovers are an increasingly significant threat to retail investors, and it is exactly the type of fraud our new Cyber Unit is focusing on," Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement.
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