Man Faces 25 Years Behind Bars for Illegally Converting Bitcoin (BTC) to US Dollars in Money Laundering Scheme

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A man from New York is facing 25 years in prison after being convicted of running an unlicensed money transmitting business as part of a scheme to launder Bitcoin (BTC).

According to a new press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), a federal jury convicted Mustafa Goklu of laundering BTC obtained through the illegal selling of narcotics.

In July 2018, Goklu made an offer online to purchase and convert BTC into cash for a fee under the username “Mustangy.” Undercover federal agents soon responded, setting up their case against the bad actor by arranging several money exchanges totaling to $133,000.

Goklu was arrested in April 2019 after making seven separate transactions with undercover agents, according to the press release.

“The [undercover officer] indicated to the defendant on multiple occasions that the source of the BTC the defendant was exchanging was narcotics trafficking and that as part of the [undercover officer’s] business. He sold oxycodone, Adderall, and marijuana.

The transactions occurred in the defendant’s parked Mercedes-Benz, at a coffee shop in Sunnyside, Queens, and locations in Manhattan. The amounts exchanged at each transaction ranged from approximately $5,000 to $50,000 for a total of $133,000.

During each transaction, the [undercover officer] transferred BTC to Goklu’s cryptocurrency wallet, after which the defendant retained a seven or eight percent commission fee and provided the [undercover officer] with the remaining amount in cash.”

Evidence at Goklu’s trial revealed that he was also illicitly laundering Bitcoin for other entities as well.

As stated by United States Attorney Breon Peace,

“The defendant offered his customers the ability to launder their criminal proceeds, remain anonymous and conceal where their Bitcoin was coming from so they could continue to engage in drug trafficking and other crimes while avoiding law enforcement detection.

With today’s verdict, Goklu’s illicit business of converting money from one form to another without a required license has been shut down and the defendant has been convicted for his crimes.”

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