A second Tampa Bay man has been charged for conspiracy and operating an unlicensed money transmitting venture. Ricardo Hill, one of the nine men allegedly linked to the JPMorgan data breach in 2014, was released on a $75,000 bond.
Last week, Hill appeared at a Manhattan court to settle various charges filed against him for operating an unregulated Bitcoin exchange. Hill admitted he was aware of the fact that his Bitcoin exchange, Coin.mx, processed transactions involving the victims of the JP Morgan security breach.
Considering Hill’s statement, the court ruled Hill to be guilty and noted that Hill and other operators of Coin.mx, including Anthony Murgio, profited from the transactions that victims settled on in order to access their files compromised during the attack.
While Hill was not directly involved with the security breach and hacking of JP Morgan’s database and computers, the court and prosecutors stated that Hill played an important role as a middleman in transferring money between the victims and the ransomware developers.
Conspiracy and money laundering charges
To date, Hill is the second person within the Tampa Bay region to be charged with conspiracy and money laundering charges for operating a Bitcoin exchange, and the ninth man to be prosecuted for the JP Morgan data breach case.
Hill’s partner, Anthony Murgio, who was also the main operator of Coin.mx, pleaded not guilty to his charges and is set to face trial in early 2017.
This case, which involves JP Morgan, its victims and nine linked alias from the Coin.mx exchange, is being extended for another year, as Murgio will appear at a New York court to dispute the charges and defend his claims.
While prosecutors and the FBI accused Coin.mx of running other criminal activities other than that seen in the JP Morgan case, not enough evidence was produced to charge the operators.
Importance of KYC Regulations
The FBI also stated that even if Murgio, Hill and others did not intend to process transactions for the hackers, the mere fact that the operators failed to contact authorities and law enforcement for suspicious activities can be used to charge individuals for money laundering.
The FBI stated:
“Murgio and his co-conspirators knowingly enabled the criminals responsible for those attacks to receive the proceeds of their crimes, yet, in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws, Murgio never filed any suspicious activity reports regarding any of the transactions.”
Ultimately, if major Bitcoin exchanges and trading platforms fail to stay on par with local KYC/AML policies and regulatory frameworks, money laundering and conspiracy charges may be filed against the operators. Thus, to prevent conflict with the law enforcement, complying with KYC/AML regulations is crucial.