There has been a lot in the news about cryptocurrency crimes in recent months. Even the FBI has come out with official statements regarding fraud with cryptocurrency and COVID-19 schemes. The U.S. Justice Department has also recently made many references to cryptocurrency and crime. These official entities are stating that digital crimes are on the rise due to the COIVD-19 pandemic.
Cryptocurrency Crimes – What Are They?
Defining cryptocurrency crimes is not as easy as you may think. There are no real laws regulating cryptocurrency itself, and there are no criminal statutes specifically addressing cryptocurrency at this time. So how can cryptocurrency crimes exist? Anyone charged with cryptocurrency crimes is generally charged with a crime designed to address paper currency. Wire fraud, bank fraud, even mail fraud are just some of the charges that can be placed against someone accused of cryptocurrency crimes.
However, if these crimes were designed to embrace criminal activity concerning paper currency transactions, how do they legally apply to digital or cloud-based currency? If you have been charged with cryptocurrency crimes, this is one of the most important questions that must be asked by your defense attorney. The second most important question that must be asked is, how do you legally distinguish fraud from poor business practices or a failed attempt? When it comes to crimes surrounding cryptocurrency and COVID-19, the answer is very relevant.
The Pandemic Has Changed Everything
Everyone can appreciate the fact that COVID-19 has changed everything about their life. From how you go to work to how you socialize with your friends. Businesses have changed, as well as the demand for new types of businesses and services. There have been many people trying to launch pandemic related businesses using cryptocurrency for funding. Some of the business ideas were large success, and their product or service has become popular. Others have not been so lucky. Sadly, many people accuse those who have failed business plans for committing fraud. They automatically assume since cryptocurrency was used that it must have been a fraudulent transaction all along. And since the Justice Department is so new at handling cryptocurrency and crime cases and do not have any specific laws or regulations to follow, many people stand wrongfully accused.
Cryptocurrency Crimes Are Always Federal Charges
Everyone needs to understand that cryptocurrency crimes are always considered federal crimes. Since cryptocurrency crosses state lines, it falls under federal jurisdiction. This also means that it comes with federal penalties as well. A conviction for cryptocurrency fraud or similar crimes could result in significantly large fines and time served in federal prison for up to 20 years. If you are currently under investigation or have been charged with any crime involving cryptocurrency, you must seek criminal defense representation with a law firm experienced in handling cryptocurrency cases.
Common Crimes Involving Cryptocurrency
Although cryptocurrency has the potential for being involved in any type of crime, at this time, the most common types of crimes involving cyber currency include:
- Fraud/Theft. One of the most common scams with cryptocurrency is fake customer service numbers. Investors who encounter some type of problem with their digital wallet will do an Internet search for a service line to call. They call the number seeking help, and what they get instead is conned into transferring all of their funds to another account while theirs is repaired. They never see their money again.
- Infrastructure Hacking. If the infrastructure that hosts the cryptocurrency is hacked, the hacker can either bankrupt a cryptocurrency or significantly increase their personal holdings, which corrupts the currency’s overall value.
- Initial Coin Offerings. New companies that offer a new mining program, currency wallet, or currency type may make initial offerings requesting other types of cyber currency to launch their product. Then, after a maximum amount of money has been invested, the business vanishes, and the investments have basically been stolen.
- Money Laundering. This is the least successful criminal activity related to cryptocurrency. However, just because most people who try to commit money laundering do not succeed does not mean that it does not happen.
Other types of criminal activity connected to cryptocurrency include trying to buy for illegal goods or services. Many people try to hide some of their transactions by paying with cryptocurrency. These crimes have the potential for fines up to $250,000 for each offense and up to 20 years in prison. I you have been accused of any cryptocurrency crime, it is important to have qualified legal representation.
There Is A Very Fine Line When It Comes To Cyber Crimes Involving Cryptocurrency
Establishing a crime as a cryptocurrency crime is a very fine line. Without many guidelines and laws to follow, the U.S. Justice system often charges people with these crimes without a lot of evidence to back their decisions. Anyone who is being investigated or charged with a cryptocurrency crime should immediately hire a defense attorney experienced with this type of criminal charge to protect your rights. Your attorney will begin to build a defense on your behalf and dismantle the charges against you. An experienced attorney will also help you protect your rights before, during, and after the trial.
Always remember: Accused or charged with a crime does not mean that you have been convicted of that crime. Working with an experienced attorney will help you build a solid defense and get the best possible outcome for your case.
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