Louis Ong Sentenced and Fined For Unlicensed Bitcoin Trading
A 20-day jail term in a United States penitentiary waits Louis Ong after he was found guilty of conducting digital currency trade without a license. The trader, who is based in Vancouver, was recently arrested and convicted after a successful sting operation done by Federal Agents. Besides the above-mentioned sentence, Louis will also have to surrender cash and digital assets (Bitcoin) worth a total of $1.1 million.
Since 2016, the US department of Homeland Security has been tracking Louis’s operations. Back then, the trader posted an online advertisement regarding his Bitcoin trading business. Immediately, Federal Agents initiated contact and bought BTC worth $12,000. This transaction was conducted at a McDonald’s outlet in Tukwila, Washington. Later on, the covert operatives contacted Ong once again, buying Bitcoin worth $50,000.
During the two deals, one factor was a constant – Ong levied outrageous charges on the transactions. This raised suspicion, as it is abnormal of licensed trading platforms to impose such fees during trades. Furthermore, Louis did not care about the source of his clients’ money. By doing this, Ong wanted to have plausible deniability if the BTC he sold was used to fund illicit projects.
Apprehension And Charging
Upon the completion of the second deal, the anti-money laundering task force approached Louis, where he agreed to cease his unauthorized trade. However, Ong went agents the agreement by conducting three additional transactions with different undercover agents. Afterwards, Ong was apprehended and sued for five counts of money laundering as well as unlicensed trading of money. As per the charges, Ong has laundered a whopping $290,000.
Intensive Crackdown On Unlicensed Bitcoin Trading
Over the past two years, the Department of Homeland Security has been hunting for unauthorized cryptocurrency traders within the US. The task was mandated upon the agency after the infamous apprehension of David Burchard, an individual who illegally sold marijuana using the Tor browser. It became evident that criminals were using the anonymity of cryptocurrencies to run their underhand activities. On the wake of this arrest, federal agencies such as Homeland and the FBI intensified the crackdown on unregistered Bitcoin traders, making several arrests in the process. Last year, undercover FBI agents in Missouri arrested Jason Klein for illegally selling an estimated $75,000 worth of Bitcoin.
Five years ago, the United States Treasury Department categorized Bitcoin selling and purchasing as a ‘money services business.’ As a result, all trading transactions concerning Bitcoin are governed by the set regulations, one of which requires all traders to have a valid trading license. Failure to adhere to these laws is a criminal offence which warrants an arrest and subsequent charging in a court of law.