Queens man charged with counterfeiting bitcoins and operating an unlicensed money transmitter business | USAO-EDNY

Earlier today, a federal jury in Brooklyn indicted Mustafa Goklu on charges of human trafficking and a scheme to launder bitcoin proceeds from drug trafficking through an illegal money transfer business. The verdict followed a four-day trial before U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen. Goklu faces up to 25 years in prison when convicted.

Brian Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the verdict.

“The defendant provided his clients with the ability to disguise their criminal proceeds as legitimate, to remain anonymous and to hide where the bitcoins came from so that they would not be known to law enforcement and continue to engage in drug trafficking and other crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Pease. “According to today’s ruling, Goklu’s illegal business of converting money from one form to another without consent has been shut down and the defendant has been charged with the crime.”

Mr. Pease thanked the New York Division of the US Drug Enforcement Administration for its outstanding investigative work in the case.

As evidenced at trial, in July 2018, DEA special agents identified an ad posted on localbitcoins.com in which an individual with the username “Mustangy” offered to buy up to $99,999 worth of bitcoins (“BTC”), also known as digital currency. cryptocurrency, and convert them to US currency for a fee. Law enforcement agents identified Goklon as an individual using the username Mustangy. In the year On July 11, 2018, an undercover DEA special agent (“UC”) began exchanging encrypted text messages with Google to physically exchange BTC into US currency. Subsequently, UC and the defendant met and engaged in seven transactions or BTC exchanges in an attempt to obtain funds over a period of nine months, leading to Goklu’s arrest in April 2019. The UC told the defendant on several occasions that the source of the BTC was being exchanged by the defendant who was a drug dealer and sold oxycodone, Adderall and marijuana as part of the UC’s business. The transactions occurred at defendant’s parked Mercedes-Benz, a coffee shop in Sunnyside, Queens, and locations in Manhattan. The amount exchanged in each transaction ranged from approximately $5,000 to $50,000, totaling $133,000. During each transaction, the UC transferred the BTC to Goklu’s cryptocurrency wallet, after which the defendant took a seven or eight percent commission and delivered the rest to the UC in cash. The evidence presented at trial also showed that the accused was involved in the same illegal Bitcoin exchange with several other individuals.

In July 2022, Mr. Pease was selected to chair the White Collar Fraud Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC). As chairman of the subcommittee, Mr. Pease plays a key role in making recommendations to the Commission on the prevention, investigation and prosecution of a variety of financial crimes, including mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, and health care fraud. , tax fraud, securities fraud and identity theft.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Gillian Casner and Maritou E. Diouf are in charge of the prosecution, assisted by paralegal Bridget Donovan.

The defendant:

Age: 50
Sunnyside, Queens

EDNY Docket No. 19-CR-386 (PKC)

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