Bitcoin ‘Maven’ Goes to Jail for Hoarding BTC Cash
In a major breakthrough, a multi-million money laundering operation involving bitcoin for cash ended in maverick ‘bitcoin maven’ being jailed. One of the few financial crimes involving a woman, ‘bitcoin maven’ was a mid-aged woman who operated an exchange operation for bitcoin –to-cash.
Maven’s unlicensed Exchange
The breakthrough in this financial crime story came when the Department of Justice arrested Theresa Lynn Tetley. She was a real estate investor and used her experience in stockbroking in virtual currencies. The Judge awarded 12 months of jail to Tetley, as she operated her business exchanging dollars for bitcoin with the necessary license. Her operations which involved transmitting money were not performed as per regulatory framework and hence liable to be sentenced. In the process, her operations were viewed as money laundering activities as well. The bitcoin she held with her was 40, which is approximately $250,000, cash of $292,264 and about 25 gold bars.
Tetley’s operations were focused on issuing Bitcoin for cash. While this cannot be a crime by regular standards, the issue here was that Tetley chose to do it illegally, outside of set regulatory guidelines.
In fact, the Justice Department’s sentencing her to a year’s worth of federal prison was largely due to her lack of business process which prevented money laundering mechanisms.
Her operations were direct, between her and her clients, when they paid for bitcoin with the currency they held. She chose to operate this direct conversion of cash to coins under the pseudo name of ‘bitcoin maven,’ and she advertised on localbitcoins.com.
Investigations found that in the course of a few years she had exchanged as much as $6 and $9.5 million.
Though her operations went undetected for so many years, it was unfortunate that she ended up transacting with an undercover agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration. The undercover agent built the case against Bitcoin Maven by luring her with another agent posing as her boyfriend who was in the drug trading business. The latter lured Maven by asking her to exchange bitcoin for stolen stashes of coke, weed, meth. The fake boyfriend’s offer was too tempting for Maven to refuse and she agreed to exchange bitcoin for weed.
The prosecutors said that, “Providing cash in envelopes (and in the significant amounts she did), in coffee shops and restaurants, is no way to conduct legitimate business, certainly when that volume exceeds the millions.. someone such as defendant—a former stockbroker and real estate investor—was certainly aware of that.”
However, Maven’s biggest setback which eventually led to her capture was her direct deals with infamous drug warlord Farber on an online marketplace ‘Alphabay.’ Farber was arrested in 2017 under various sections of illegal possession of drugs and controlled substances. As investigators ran deep into Farber’s network, bitcoin maven also came under surveillance, which resulted in her arrest two years after she was identified.
Bitcoin maven will now spend federal prison time for 366 days. The money laundered by her – in bitcoin stash – is now in possession of the government.