A six-person criminal network in New Hampshire allegedly scammed credit unions and banks into opening accounts by claiming they represented religious organizations such as the Crypto Church of NH, the Church of the Invisible Hand and the Satanic Reformed Church.
In reality, the bogus churches were fronts for operating accounts to support an illegal $ 10 million virtual currency exchange business, federal prosecutors alleged in a 20-crime indictment filed in court on Monday. District of Concord, New Hampshire.
Since 2016, the six suspects had been operating a business that allowed customers across the country to exchange more than $ 10 million in fixed currency for virtual currency, charging a fee for their service. One of the suspects, Ian Freeman, 40, of Keene, NH, was reportedly awarded more than $ 5 million to run the alleged financial crimes business, according to the indictment.
“We are certainly anxious to confront the charges,” said Freeman’s attorney, Mark L. Sisti. “It’s a pretty unique indictment [with] a lot of first impression issues that we are eager to address. I can tell you categorically that Ian maintains his innocence and looks forward to a trial.
Using websites as well as virtual currency ATMs in New Hampshire, the accused allegedly operated the virtual currency exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations.
According to the indictment, the victim financial institutions included the $ 4.5 billion Service Credit Union in Portsmouth, Cheshire County Federal Credit Union in Keene (a division of GFA Federal Credit Union), the GFA Federal Credit Union in $ 601 million in Gardner, Massachusetts, the $ 13.8 billion First Tech Federal Credit Union in San Jose, Calif., Wells Fargo, TD Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America. The co-conspirators allegedly used these credit union and bank accounts to commit 14 incidents of wire fraud via a phone call or email.
The suspects were arrested Tuesday in a coordinated action by law enforcement.
In addition to Freeman, Colleen Fordham, 60, Alstead, Renee Spinella, 23, Derry, Andrew Spinella, 35, Derry and Nobody (formerly Richard Paul), 52, Keene and Aria DiMezzo, 34 de Keene were charged with Conspiracy to Operate an Unlicensed Money Transfer Business.
Freeman, Fordham, the Spinellas and Nobody were also charged with wire fraud and participation in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Freeman has also been charged with money laundering and operating an ongoing financial crimes business. The indictment also accused Freeman and DiMezzo of operating an unlicensed money transfer business.
The six accused conspirators reportedly told the credit unions that the accounts would be used to receive church donations and for outreach. Additionally, federal prosecutors alleged that Freeman and others asked their clients to lie to credit unions and banks about the virtual currency transactions they were performing.
“Specifically, they asked customers to hide from financial institutions the fact that customers were buying virtual currency. and in some cases falsely claiming the payments were donations from the church for the purpose of purchasing rare coins, ”federal prosecutors wrote in the indictment.
Freeman, Fordham, the Spinellas, Nobody and DiMezzo pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in federal court.
A lawyer representing Renee Spinella declined to comment. Lawyers representing four other defendants did not respond to CU Times’ request for comment.