DOJ charges Miami-based trio with defrauding banks, crypto exchange for $4 million

Quick Take

  • The US Department of Justice has charged three people with defrauding banks and a cryptocurrency exchange for $4 million.
  • The defendants allegedly used stolen identities to buy cryptocurrency and later falsely claimed to banks that the purchases were unauthorized.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged three people in Miami with a conspiracy to defraud banks and a cryptocurrency exchange for more than $4 million.

The three defendants — identified as Esteban Cabrera Da Corte, Luis Hernandez Gonzalez and Asdrubal Ramirez Meza — were arrested on Tuesday, according to a release

The DOJ alleges in an unsealed indictment that in early 2020 the Miami-based trio opened accounts on "a leading cryptocurrency exchange platform" using "photos of fake US passports, driver's licenses and stolen personal identifying information." They linked those accounts to several bank accounts, deposited money into those bank accounts using ATMs and bought more than $4 million worth of cryptocurrency, the indictment states. 

The cryptocurrency was later transferred to a wallet outside the exchange controlled by the defendants and their co-conspirators, according to the DOJ. After the transfer was done, the defendants allegedly called the banks to falsely report that the cryptocurrency purchases were unauthorized, leading banks to reverse the transactions. 

The scheme resulted in banks processing more than $4 million in fraudulent reversals and the exchange lost more than $3.5 million in cryptocurrency, according to the DOJ. 

 “Cabrera, Hernandez, and Ramirez coordinated this large-scale operation to launder millions of dollars through cryptocurrency exchanges and U.S. banks, ultimately exploiting both the virtual currency market and the U.S. financial system," Ricky J. Patel, the acting special agent-in-charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said in a statement. 

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