US Prosecutors Unseal New Charges Against Bitcoin Exchange Operator

Stan Higgins
Nov 10, 2015 at 17:43 UTC
Updated Nov 11, 2015 at 16:04 UTC
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A new indictment has been filed against Anthony Murgio, the former operator of bitcoin exchange Coin.mx, months after charges were first submitted by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Court documents obtained by CoinDesk detail seven charges against Murgio, who was arrested in July alongside co-operator Yuri Lebedev and charged with the unlawful operation of a money transmission business as well as money laundering. Murgio later posted $100,000 bail.

As in the original indictment, Murgio is accused of operating a vast conspiracy for the unlawful operation of Coin.mx in the new superseding indictment. Key to the scheme was falsely representing the firm as a members-only “Collectors Club” organization. Murgio also allegedly miscoded credit card transactions in order to hide the fact that bitcoins were being purchased.

According to the filing, customers were induced to misleading their banks:

“Also in furtherance of their unlawful Coin.mx scheme, Murgio and his co-conspirators knowingly instructed customers of Coin.mx to lie to banks about the bitcoin exchange transactions the customers were executing with Coin.mx, and to state falsely that they were for the exchange of collectible items, and not for bitcoins.”

Later, the exchange acquired control of a New Jersey-based credit union in order to facilitate transactions.

The new charges, which according to the US Attorney’s Office were filed as a result of its continuing investigation, come in tandem with charges against three other individuals: Gery Shalon, Joshua Aaron and Ziv Orenstein.

The three stand accused of money laundering, computer hacking and securities fraud charges. Coin.mx, according to the US government, was used as a vehicle for laundering illicit funds.

In addition to being accused of aiding the unlicensed operation of Coin.mx, the three allegedly orchestrated a web of digital criminal activity dating back to 2012 that involved a cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase in 2014, as well as attacks against other financial institutions.

The indictment alleges a global infrastructure of crime, including illicit gambling sites, money laundering channels and the theft of data from at least a hundred million individuals over a multi-year period.

Though the bank was not directly named in today’s filing, JPMorgan confirmed the breach in a statement to Bloomberg News. Bloomberg also reported that Wall Street financial information service Dow Jones & Co was also targeted.

Orenstein and Shalon, the latter of whom is listed in the federal indictment as an owner of Coin.mx, were arrested in Israel, according to a report by Israel Hayom.

The government is seeking asset forfeitures of the four defendants. US Attorney Preet Bharara will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. local time. The agency was not immediately available for comment.

The two indictments can be found below:

U.S. v Anthony Murgio Indictment

U.S. v Shalon Et Al Indictment

Court room image via Shutterstock

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