- A 33-year old who used the dark web to steal $500,000 and buy bitcoin has been sentenced to prison.
- Aaron Laws used burner phones and recruited accomplices to avoid detection, a Seattle court said.
- He bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and a Rolex that cost more than $34,000.
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A “prolific identity thief” who fraudulently used credit cards, pocketed $500,000, and bought bitcoin has been sentenced to three years in prison, the US District Court in Seattle announced on Friday.
Aaron Laws of Atlanta, Georgia, the 33-year-old suspect, employed a sophisticated scheme that involved recruiting accomplices, operating digital wallets and burner phones, and using bitcoin to avoid detection, Acting US Attorney Tessa Gorman said.
“Motivated by greed, this defendant attempted to use digital advances to hide his old-fashioned fraud,” Gorman said in a statement.
“At all phases – from accessing the dark web, to loading stolen data onto digital wallets, to acquiring prepaid anonymous phones, to adopting aliases, to laundering money through anonymous cryptocurrency accounts – his operation was sophisticated and difficult to detect. But ultimately law enforcement stopped him in his tracks.”
Laws acquired credit card information from “carding websites” on the dark web to carry out his scheme, the District Court said, citing case records. Such illegal websites are used to share stolen credit card data and for criminal activity.
He stored this information on digital wallets on prepaid phones, then immediately used it to make fraudulent purchases of luxury goods and items that could be sold for cash or bitcoin, the court said. He also bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and a Rolex watch that cost more than $34,000.
Laws spent about $166,000 on bitcoin between February and November 2017, buying 56% of that amount in just one day – on August 23, 2017. He was arrested in October of that year, having to serve time in jail on the weekends. But he continued to commit fraud across the country, the statement said.
He “had a very complicated criminal enterprise and nothing seemed to deter him,” US District Judge Robert Lasnik said at the sentence hearing.
Laws pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft on January 31, and was ordered to make a $623,554 restitution payment.
Representatives for Aaron Laws could not be reached for comment.