The owner and manager of cryptocurrency exchange RG Coins has been handed a lengthy prison term for his involvement in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud U.S. citizens.
According to a Tuesday press release from the Department of Justice, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Weir sentenced Rossen Iossifov to a 10-year sentence – 85% of which must be served behind bars under U.S. federal law.
The 53-year-old former Bulgarian national was sentenced for conspiracy to commit an offense under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Iossifov intentionally engaged in business designed to assist criminals in laundering proceeds of fraud and shielded himself from criminal liability, per the release.
Five of Iossifov’s main clients in Bulgaria belonged to a criminal enterprise dubbed the Alexandria (Romania) Online Auction Fraud (AOAF) Network. So far, 17 members of the AOAF Network have been convicted for their role in the scheme.
The online auction fraud gang targeted at least 900 U.S. citizens in a “large-scale” operation. Romanian-based members of AOAF posted false advertisements to online sales sites such as eBay and Craigslist for high-cost goods, typically vehicles, that did not actually exist.
After victims sent payment, the money was laundered using cryptocurrency accepted on behalf of domestic associates who would then transfer the cryptocurrency proceeds to foreign-based money launderers.
Iossifov undertook the last step in the scheme on behalf of the criminal network, the court found. In less than three years, Iossifov laundered close to $5 million in cryptocurrency for four of the five AOAF criminal co-conspirators.
More than $7 million in total was defrauded from U.S. victims via the scheme. In return, Iossifov made over $184,000 in proceeds from the transactions, according to the Department of Justice.