A fake id production operation has been busted in Toledo, Ohio. Three people were arrested in connection with the scheme.
The activities involved the production of fake IDs, which were then sold for Bitcoin to underage persons on the dark web.
This case has added on to the ingenious ways in which criminals have continued to exploit virtual currencies. The dark web and Bitcoin made it possible for the perpetrators to operate.
Details of the Arrests
A man named Mark Simon was arrested. He is suspected to be the leader of the criminal syndicate. He, together with an accomplice, Sarah Alberts, had been manufacturing the fake IDs at Simon’s home.
According to a press release from the Northern District of Ohio Attorney’s Office, the execution of a search warrant issued into Simon’s house yielded $4.7 million worth of Bitcoin and other materials used for the production of fake IDs.
Investigators allege that Simon built a following of potential customers on Reddit, under the handle TedDanzigSR. Agents also claim that in the past, Simon had been selling falsified identification documents on Silk Road, a notorious dark web market that was busted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013.
Talk of the case has been circulating on Reddit since Simon’s arrest.
This scheme is a new one in a string of criminal activities involving the dark web and virtual currency. However, investigations have been going on about the plot for a couple of years leading up to the arrest of the individuals involved in the operation.
Aaron Kuns, a member of the syndicate, has also been arrested.
The three have been charged in court and could be going to jail for extended time if they are convicted.
A fourth person, Benjamin Stalets, was also charged alongside the trio, but he has not been arrested yet. Alberts and Kuns were released on bail after they were charged.
Simon, however, is in police custody awaiting trial.
A Trend in Online Fake ID Schemes
The developments in the Fake IDs scheme have revealed more of the creative methods that criminals have devised to exploit cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin. The trend is not surprising considering the rising value of Bitcoin, as well as its popularity.
These latest busts are the indicators of the evolution of criminal activities involving Bitcoin. The ring involved in the fake IDs scheme targeted high school and college students. The IDs could then be used to make unauthorized purchases, namely alcohol, by underage persons.
The past has seen cryptocurrencies associated with cybercrime, as a result of the anonymous nature of the transactions completed using them.
However, the increasingly popular Bitcoin trade has busted into the scene with much hype. At the same time, public focus shifted away from the criminal activities made possible by cryptocurrencies.
Those involved in legitimate Bitcoin use have continued to aggressively create hype about Bitcoin as an innovative financial asset. They popularized its ability to execute legitimate transactions.
Criminals behind the veil that is dark web have taken advantage of this situation to put their activities in full swing. The current everyday news of fraudulent operations funded through Bitcoin is bound to be utilized by naysayers of cryptocurrencies, their primary focus being the illegal usage.
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies are faced with new challenges surrounding cryptocurrencies.
In the above case, when the law enforcement officers seized the $4.7 million from Simon’s house, the currency was not in U.S. legal tender form. It is challenging to trace the trails of such money.
It is not easy to follow the path of these virtual currencies. Therefore, all sorts of criminal activities have been switching to cryptocurrency transactions to continue with their operations.
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