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When facing cryptocurrency-related charges at the federal or state level, you are facing the US or a State government and its endless sea of resources.

While the federal government does its best to stack the chips against you, a highly-skilled and experienced Philadelphia federal criminal defense attorney can help even the deck. Our team of knowledgeable federal defense lawyers stands ready to aggressively defend you in this complex and high-stakes legal arena.

Are You Fighting Cryptocurrency-Related Criminal Charges?

Cryptocurrency-related charges can take a few different forms. There is some overlap here, with potential criminal charges in the areas of Money Laundering, Securities Fraud, Wire Fraud, Tax Evasion, and simple Theft. Even Drug Trafficking can overlap with Crypto-related criminal charges. We’ll discuss some of these topics here.

Cryptocurrency-Related Charges Rooted in Money Laundering

Money laundering (the Federal Statute lives at 18 U.S.C. § 1956) is, essentially, the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.

Practically, money laundering is often accomplished by moving the money through a series of transactions that make it difficult to trace its source. Cryptocurrency is a popular tool for money laundering because it is a digital currency that moves outside traditional banking channels. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to track transactions and identify criminals.

Cryptocurrency-Related Charges Rooted in Securities Fraud

Securites Fraud is a broad area of law. Criminal charges can be triggered by Ponzi schemes, issuance of securities (and the SEC is increasingly sounding the alarm that nearly all Cryptocurrencies are securities), pump and dumps, and more.

Cryptocurrency-Related Charges Rooted in Wire Fraud

Wire Fraud is often employed as an add-on to other white collar or fraud charges. Wire Fraud essentially means a defendant, which committing other crime, used telecommunications or information technology. This is a technical area, and these charges can be defended effectively.

Cryptocurrency-Related Charges Rooted in Tax Evasion

Cryptocurrencies, when bought and sold, are treated for tax purposes like any other short-term or long-term asset. Tax Evasion can be triggered when an individual or entity fails to disclose trades or simply fails to pay an assessed tax.

Cryptocurrency-Related Charges Rooted in Simple Theft

Any asset can yield a criminal charge for theft, and cryptocurrency is no exception.

Cryptocurrency is a digital asset that is vulnerable to theft. There are a number of ways that cryptocurrency can be stolen, including phishing, malware, ransomware, and exchange hacks.

Phishing is a type of scam where the attacker sends a fraudulent email or text message that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a cryptocurrency exchange or wallet provider. The email or text message will often contain a link that, when clicked, will take the victim to a fake website that looks like the real website. Once the victim enters their login credentials on the fake website, the attacker can steal them.

Malware is software that is designed to harm a computer system. Malware can be installed on a computer through a variety of ways, such as clicking on a malicious link, opening an infected attachment, or downloading a file from an untrusted source. Once malware is installed on a computer, it can steal cryptocurrency by accessing the victim’s cryptocurrency wallets or by mining cryptocurrency on the victim’s computer without their knowledge.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s files and demands a ransom payment in cryptocurrency in order to decrypt them. If the victim does not pay the ransom, they may lose access to their files permanently.

Exchange hacks are attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges. Exchanges are websites that allow users to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency. Exchanges are often targeted by hackers because they hold large amounts of cryptocurrency. In 2014, the Mt. Gox exchange was hacked and $450 million worth of Bitcoin was stolen (at former prices, the amount is in billions at today’s prices). This was the largest cryptocurrency hack at the time.

What Are the Potential Penalties for Cryptocurrency Crimes?

The potential penalties for cryptocurrency crimes can be severe, depending on the specific crime and the circumstances. Keep in mind, these can tend to be worse-case scenarios, and effective defenses can reduce penalties.

Some common cryptocurrency crimes and their potential penalties include:

Money laundering: A conviction for money laundering can result in up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Tax evasion: A federal conviction for tax evasion can result in a five-year prison sentence, along with a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual and up to $500,000 for an entity.

Theft/fraud: The punishment for a theft/fraud conviction depends on the amount alleged stolen.

It is important to note that these are just a few examples of the potential penalties for cryptocurrency crimes. The specific penalties for any given crime will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. If you are facing charges for a cryptocurrency crime, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and your options.

What to Do if You Are Charged or Under Investigation for Cryptocurrency Crimes?

If you suspect you may be under federal investigation or have been charged with a federal or state cryptocurrency-related crime, you should contact our experienced Philadelphia federal defense firm today. With decades of experience representing clients in federal court, our highly-skilled defense attorneys have successfully defended clients in federal drug cases, federal gun cases, federal fraud and white-collar crime cases. We take great pride in providing each and every client with the skilled advocacy and critical advice they need to successfully defend against federal criminal charges or avoid federal indictment.

To learn more about Pennsylvania and federal criminal defense or to benefit from a confidential case evaluation, contact our experienced federal defense firm today.


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