June 19, 2024
Crypto

Bitcoin scammer given 2.5 years in federal prison | News


HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A man was sentenced to 2-1/2 years in federal prison for stealing $5.5 million from clients in a scheme that involved exchanging and transferring cryptocurrency.

On Thursday in the District Court of Guam, Julien Abat Weymouth, 21, was sentenced for operating an unlawful money transmitting business.

Senior Judge Alex Munson decided to sentence Weymouth to 30 months, or 2-1/2 years, in federal prison, which was the recommendation given by the U.S. attorney’s office.

According to court records, Weymouth’s charges stem from a scheme that started in January 2020 and continued until at least April 2021 in which Weymouth “was engaged in the operation of an unlawful money transmitting business involving the exchange and transfer of cryptocurrency, primarily bitcoin.”

Weymouth’s plea agreement states he solicited cash and cryptocurrency from “clients” or “investors” in and outside of Guam and transmitted it to a third party for “investment purposes.”

Under federal law, to operate as a cryptocurrency exchanger and exchange funds on behalf of others to third parties, Weymouth needed to register his business, which he did not do.

Clients were guaranteed a return on their “investment” by Weymouth. The guaranteed amount was determined by Weymouth, who kept the excess money that was not guaranteed.

In addition, court documents state Weymouth solicited funds from individuals involved in illegal activity.

Within the span of the scheme, Weymouth transmitted funds and cryptocurrency worth approximately $5,517,323.45, which he reinvested into other forms of cryptocurrency, kept in cash or used to purchase vehicles and assets. As a result of entering a guilty plea, Weymouth agreed to forfeit the assets.

The seized assets include about $13 million in currency, mostly in bitcoin, and six different vehicle models manufactured by Honda.

Informant

Weymouth’s attorney, Rawlen Mantanona, recommended his client receive a sentence that does not include incarceration.

Mantanona argued in his sentencing memorandum that Weymouth’s conduct “was not a grand scheme to defraud the government, society, financial institutions, or any individual.”

“Rather he sought to assist the community who have been scammed by other fraudulent Bitcoin cons, providing them with a legitimate opportunity to recoup the monies lost in previous scams,” Mantanona wrote.

Also Weymouth, according to Mantanona, did not have knowledge of the regulations needed in the trade of bitcoin, which is a “quickly evolving landscape.”

Along with Weymouth expressing remorse and regret for his actions, Mantanona said Weymouth cooperated with the federal government and is a confidential informant in the investigation of William Ichioka.

According to Post files, Ichioka is a former resident of Guam who was sentenced to four years in the Northern District of California earlier this month for a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme.

“The defendant’s role as a confidential informant, specifically in the criminal case against William Koo Ichioka was not only instrumental but also marked by extraordinary commitment. The assistance extended to persuading William to surrender 334.5 Bitcoin to the U.S. Government, which is a considerable contribution to the resolution of this case and is above the amount needed to make all victims whole,” Mantanona stated in his memorandum.



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