ARIZONA (USA): BITCOIN ATM CEO (Brannen Mehaffey) INDICTED, ARRESTED with charges of money laundering
Brannen S. Mehaffey
- The boss of Bitcoin ATM service ‘BASH’ was arrested and charged with eight counts.
- The defendant is accused of setting up an illegal business, facilitating money laundering, and evading financial reporting.
- The allegations include knowingly aiding criminals to make their fraudulently-acquired money untraceable.
The CEO of Bitcoin ATM company ‘BASH’, Brannen S. Mehaffey, was indicted by the U.S. District Court of Arizona, facing money laundering charges and another seven counts. The man moved an excess of $4 million through his personal and his business bank accounts over the last two years, and in several cases, the money was directly linked with cases of online fraud. The indictment mentions two specific cases of one victim losing $125,000 that was traced back to Mehaffey’s accounts, and a second one losing $7,370, which was transferred to the CEO of ‘BASH’ again.
‘BASH’ is a 100% American company that has deployed over 20 ATMs across the state of Texas, enabling people to exchange between virtual currency and USD. The company charged a transaction fee of up to 8% for using the service and advertised on high-traffic websites like ‘craigslist.org’ and ‘localbitcoins.com’. The website of the firm, which is no longer online, specifically mentioned that “what you do with bitcoin is your business and not mine, so please do not detail how you use it.”
This indicates that Mehaffey knew what was going on in several cases but wanted to renounce any responsibility. Moreover, the man did not officially register his company as a “money transmitting” business, as required by Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1960. This is another indication that he wanted to avoid scrutiny as well as to have to go through obligatory transaction reporting requirements. And finally, Mehaffey split the amounts into small chunks to avoid the report of transactions that are over $10,000 to the IRS, as required by the “Bank Secrecy Act”.
Even the locations of the ‘BASH’ ATMs were pretty shady, including a smoke shop, a computer repair point, and a strip club. Obviously, Mehaffey didn’t want to draw too much attention to his business, and couldn’t agree on hosting contracts with larger and more mainstream stores due to the borderline illegality of not registering his company for what it really was.
The ‘BASH’ boss was arrested on October 21, 2020, but the indictment was unsealed only now. The defendant will now have to forfeit any property, real or personal, which will be determined to be linked with the offenses. The same applies to anything that the defendant has already transferred or sold to a third party or placed beyond the Arizona court’s jurisdiction.
USA DOJ ANNOUNCEMENT: Man behind $4M unregistered digital currency business indicted in US
The U.S. Department of Justice has unsealed an indictment against a man accused of operating an unregistered digital currency business for two years. The indictment, which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) shared with CoinGeek, stated that Brannen Mehaffey processed at least $4 million from January 2018 to March 2020 worth of digital currencies.
A grand jury in the District Court of Arizona alleges that Mehaffey exchanged digital currencies for cash in person through peer-to-peer sales. He also put up a network of digital currency ATMs at brick-and-mortar stores including at a smoke shop and a strip club in Austin, Texas.
Mehaffey also had an online presence, advertising his services on LocalBitcoins and Craigslist, according to federal authorities. On his listing on the peer-to-peer trading platform, Mehaffey allegedly told his prospective buyers: “What you do with bitcoin is your business and not mine. Please do not speak how you use it.”
On March 12, 2020, a law enforcement officer disguised as a client reached out to Mehaffey to launder proceeds of crime through his network, according to the indictment. The officer allegedly deposited $8,000 in the first transaction, and $13,000 in the second, to Mehaffey’s BBVA Compass Bank account. A month later, another officer deposited $20,990 to multiple bank accounts Mehaffey owned in Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank.
In yet another count, the DoJ alleges that Mehaffey “did knowingly cause and attempt to cause each domestic financial institution to fail to file a Currency Transaction Report, all while violating another law of the United States and as part of a pattern of illegal activity involving more than $100,000 in a 12-month period.”
Prosecutors want Mehaffey to forfeit any property which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offenses. If the property can’t be located, has been transferred or sold, or has diminished in value substantially, he shall forfeit substitute property.
The DoJ has seized a record amount of funds from digital currencies-related criminal entities this year. In November, the department made one of the biggest seizures of all time, taking over $1 billion in BSV, BTC and BCH from an alleged hacker. They claimed that the hacker had attacked dark web marketplace Silk Road and stolen the fund in 2013.
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