A corrupt US Secret Service agent is sentenced to six years in prison and repayment of $1.1 million of stolen money. An operator of bitcoin exchange is accused of trying to bribe a financial officer.

Last days brought sequels to two fascinating bitcoin crime stories, one about Silk Road and corrupt government agents, and another about Coin.mx, a bitcoin exchange that allegedly was part of a powerful cybercrime network.

On 7 December Shaun W. Bridges, found guilty of money laundering and obstruction of justice, was sentenced by San Francisco federal court to 71 months of prison and three years of supervised release after serving the term. He also promised to repay $1.1 million of stolen money. His lawyers tried to reduce the sentence to three years in prison, citing his faultless 12-year service in law enforcement.

While participating in the federal investigation of the underground bitcoin marketplace Silk Road, Bridges used his expertise in cryptocurrency to steal bitcoins and launder them at the bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. His co-conspirator, Carl Mark Force IV, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, was sentenced in October to 78 months of prison.

Their actions were unveiled only in March, after the conviction of Ross Ulbricht, the operator of the Silk Road, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. The officers’ involvement in bitcoin theft provoked uproar in the bitcoin community, especially as some evidence suggested that Carl Mark Force IV abused his official position to extort money from bitcoiners and tried to become Mt. Gox’s representative in the US and Canada. Some Redditors went as far as to suggest that the whole crash of Mt. Gox had been provoked by the attempt of the US government to steal money.

Another story concerns Yuri Lebedev, operator of Coin.mx, arrested in July 2015 together with his colleague Anthony Murgio. The bitcoin exchange was unlicensed and allegedly collaborated with the famous bitcoin ransomware Cryptowall. An indictment published in November against Gery Shalon, Ziv Orenstein and Joshua Samuel Aaron, revealed that Coin.mx was just a part of a huge crime empire. Shalon and Orenstein, arrested in Israel simultaneously with Lebedev and Murgio, and Aaron, a fugitive wanted by FBI, were accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars, organising hacks and cyberattacks, operating illegal online pharmacies and casinos, selling fake and malicious anti-virus software, creating 75 shell companies and bank and brokerage accounts and “fraudulently using approximately 200 purported identification documents, including over 30 false passports that purported to be issued by the United States and at least 16 other countries.”

Yuri Lebedev was the only one of the alleged co-conspirators arrested in July not yet indicted. The indictment, published by Coindesk, accuses him of conspiring with “others known and unknown” to “commit an offense against United States” by “corruptly giving, offering and promising a sum of money greater than $1,000” to a senior executive of a credit union located in New Jersey. The goal was to take over the board of directors on behalf of Coin.mx.

CoinFox will continue to follow the development of both stories.


Alexey Tereshchenko