A 33-year-old identity thief who bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and stole half a million dollars gets 3 years in prison

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency logos seen displayed on an Android phone with an American flag in the background
  • 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.

Bitcoin diamond pendent

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.

Read More: These 5 stocks are ripe for a short squeeze after surging in popularity this past month, according to Fintel. 2 even have the meme-friendly appeal of AMC and GameStop.

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Brazilian ‘bitcoin king’ arrested in an alleged $300 million embezzlement case

Police in Brazil hold a press conference about an investigation into a bitcoin scam.
Brazilian police discuss the July 2021 arrests of people involved in an alleged bitcoin scam.

  • Police in the Brazilian state of Parana have arrested several people for their alleged involvement in a bitcoin scam.
  • A self-proclaimed ‘bitcoin king’ was among those arrested over the scheme after a three-year investigation.
  • The alleged scam harmed thousands of customers of a crypto brokerage firm, police said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A self-proclaimed “bitcoin king” in Brazil is among those arrested by police in a case accusing the group of running a $300 million embezzlement scheme.

The arrests follow a three-year investigation in the southern Brazilian state of Parana that was conducted by 90 federal officers. Police outlined the case in a Monday press conference, including the arrest of Claudio Oliveira, the so-called “Bitcoin King” who was the alleged ringleader in the theft of 1.5 billion Brazil reais ($300 million) from investors. Several other people were arrested, according to CoinDesk.

Authorities said Oliveira was the president of a crypto brokerage, Bitcoin Banco Group, which in 2019 claimed that 7,000 bitcoin had gone missing. The group then fraudulently applied for judicial recovery, a type of exemption that allows an entity to pay creditors without filing for bankruptcy, according to the CoinDesk report.

But in 2020, it was determined that the group wasn’t complying with its obligations under the judicial reorganization. According to a translated press release, police said the group continued to bring in new customers and promote its business activities without registering with the country’s Commission of Securities, known as the CVM.

The group is suspected of entering into irregular contracts with thousands of customers, according to the press release about “Operação Daemon,” or Operation Daemon.

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