The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California released a statement on Monday detailing charges against Jacob Burrell Campos, who was accused of having operated an illegal Bitcoin exchange.
According to that statement, Campos sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to more than a thousand customers across the United States.
Those sales took place between January of 2015 and April of 2016 – long before Bitcoin reached the $20,000 mark earlier this year.
In a plea deal that he made with the US Attorney’s Office, Campos said that he advertised his business on Localbitcoins.com – a website that, as opposed to going through an exchange, allows users to buy and sell bitcoins directly to or from other individuals.
Communicating with his clients via email, text and messenger apps, Campos would sell to clients with a 5 percent mark-up on market price to make a commission.
Five years in prison
At first, Campos would buy Bitcoins through a US-regulated exchange. But, after that exchange became suspicious of his activity and banned him, he moved on to a Hong Kong exchange.
Though the above may make him sound like a small-timer, Campos was selling a huge amount. Between March 2015 and April 2017, the 21 year-old bought $3.29 million-worth of the cryptocurrency.
Campos kept his cash in Mexico but would exchange it with Joseph Castillo, a San Diego-based precious metals dealer.
According to the statement released by the US Attorney’s Office, between late 2016 and early 2018, Campos and others imported over $1 million in U.S. currency on an almost daily basis.
As a result of his plea agreement, Campos will have to pay the US government a total of $823,357. He will be sentenced in February of 2019 and faces up to five years in prison alongside a $250,000 fine.
“Unlicensed money transmitting businesses pose a serious threat to the integrity of the US banking system, and provide an ‘open door’ for criminals to utilize such businesses to launder the proceeds of their illicit activities,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “The Department of Justice will continue to investigate and prosecute all individuals and businesses that seek to evade the licensing and anti-money laundering requirements under federal law.”