The former operator of Coin.mx, Anthony Murgio, has been tried and sentenced to five and a half years in prison, for running an unlicensed bitcoin exchange suspected of aiding and facilitating money laundering.
Also Read: Assisting in Bitcoin Purchases for Ransomware May Be Illegal in the US
Coin.mx Has Been Accused of Processing Millions of Dollars Between 2013 and 2015 Despite Being Unlicensed
Anthony Murgio pleaded guilty to three conspiracy counts, including bank fraud and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The thirty-three-year-old is the former operator of coin.mx, a bitcoin exchange that has been suspected of assisting hackers launder cryptocurrency and has been linked to a data breach at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Coin.mx has been accused of processing millions of dollars between 2013 and 2015 despite being unlicensed. Prosecutors said that Murgio and co-conspirators processed funds on behalf of the victims and owners of bitcoin-based ransomware programs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eun Choi described Mr. Murgio’s facilitation of ransomware victims accessing bitcoin as “exploit[ing] their desperation to personally profit from them.” Many within the cryptocurrency have raised concerns about Murgio getting charged for aiding the victims of ransomware to obtain bitcoins, arguing that such could lead to bitcoin exchanges being unwilling to work with ransomware victims – rendering ransomware victim’s unable to prevent the deletion of important files and data when required.
It is also alleged that a since-liquidated New Jersey credit union was taken over in order to obscure their financial activity, with Antony Murgio’s father pleading guilty to an obstruction of justice charges pertaining to the credit union.
Manhattan U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan Described Coin.mx’s Illegal Activities As “An Effort Based on Ambition and Greed”
The criminal investigations have seen nine individuals charged with felonies relating to the JPMorgan hack, which breached more than 83 million accounts.
Manhattan U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan described Coin.mx’s illegal activities as “an effort based on ambition and greed”, and Mr. Murgio as having created a “pyramid of lies”. Antony Murgio was emotional throughout the proceedings, on numerous occasions losing composure whilst expressing his “enormous regret”. “Believing what I was doing was OK did not make it OK,” Murgio stated. “I am wiser today than when the case began, and I am sorry for all the damage I caused to so many people.”
In March, a Manhattan jury convicted New Jersey pastor Trevon Gross and Florida software engineer Yuri Lebedev of scheming to conceal Coin.mx’s activities from banks and regulators. The two individuals are currently awaiting sentencing.
Coin.mx’s owner, Gery Shalon, has pleaded not guilty to U.S charges following his extradition from Israel.
Do you think that bitcoin exchanges should be able to assist the victims of ransomware in obtaining bitcoins without having to fear prosecution? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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