In a recent revelation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has charged six individuals for allegedly operating an unlicensed crypto money-transmitting operation in New York. The operation reportedly amassed over $30 million before it was busted.
Unveiling the Offenders
Based on the unsealed affidavit by FBI special agent Lawrence Lonergan, the individuals identified as Naineshkumar Patel, Nileshkumar Patel, Raju Patel, Shaileshkumar Goyani, Brijeshkumar Patel, and Hirenkumar Patel were actively involved in this illegal enterprise from July 2021 to September 2023.
Regulatory Compliance Bypassed
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) mandates virtual currency transmitters and exchangers to register and obtain state licenses. This operation blatantly ignored these regulatory compliances, operating in the shadows for over two years.
The affidavit reveals that the accused utilized a darknet anonymizer to convert various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, into cash, making tracking their activities a formidable challenge.
Aiding Law Enforcement
Of the accused, one has received a conditional release by a U.S. magistrate judge, as reported by CoinDesk. This development follows after a lengthy investigation initiated by the identification of an individual offering Bitcoin-to-cash conversion services on the dark web back in April 2021.
Unveiling the Modus Operandi
Their operation, carried out via messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp, also included in-person cash transactions. An informant, closely associated with the defendants, exposed the extensive network which allegedly served drug dealers and cybercriminals among others.
A Step Further in Crypto Crime Investigation
The bust is a significant stride following the 2022 formation of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), which underscores the increasing efforts to curb crypto-related crimes. This case shines a light on the underworld of unregulated crypto operations and sets a precedent for law enforcement’s capability in tackling cryptocurrency-associated offenses.