FBI chases down activists who implemented bitcoin in US city

FBI chases down activists who implemented bitcoin in US city

On March 16, six people were arrested in the United States in the city of Keene, New Hampshire, accusing them of illegally operating a cryptocurrency exchange through websites and even ATMs who used to exchange bitcoin (BTC) for dollars. It is the liberal activist group “Free Keene”, which wanted to move the city’s economic system to decentralized digital currencies. Now, unprecedented details of the federal operation have emerged.

Pro-cryptocurrency activist group condemns aggressive arrest

Photo: Quote Inspector / Flickr / Technoblog

hey ledge Published a report this past Monday (02) detailing the story of the Free Keen group and what happened on March 16, when the FBI raided several properties linked to the movement, confiscated millions in bitcoin, and arrested six people. “He conducted his virtual currency exchange business using cryptocurrency sites and ATMs in New Hampshire,” the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in the indictment.

FBI arrests six people in exaggerated military operation

Among the accused persons, some even changed their names in support of the cause. Ian Freeman, formerly Ian Barnard, 40, is considered the leader of the movement. Other detainees included Colleen Fordham, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, Aria DiMezzo, and even a man named “Nobody”, formerly Richard Paul.

according to ledge He learned, the operation had been militarized at dawn frighteningly. Freeman awoke to the sound of shattering glass in his office and found several special police forces, complete with drones flying overhead, SUVs outside and rifles. Aria DiMezzo revealed that the same night she was shocked by another FBI team who allegedly threatened to shoot her if she was transferred.

The operation also confiscated millions in the possession of the moderate group. In several locations in Keene City, the FBI shut down dedicated ATMs for converting cryptocurrencies. In all, US$50,000 in cash was seized from inside the machines. Agents also found and took another $180,000 from Freeman’s home with silver bars, one gold and platinum coin, and two physical bitcoins of 1 BTC and 100 BTC, which ceased to be sold in 2013 and are now priced at $4. million US dollars.

Activist movement or criminal organization?

The FBI had been investigating the liberal group and its operations for years in search of evidence of illegal activities such as money laundering. But the allegation that scared activists was of illegally operating a cryptocurrency exchange business that allowed customers to exchange more than $10 million for digital coins. For its services, the group also charged an administrative fee on the transaction.

Group Implements Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies in Keene's Local Economy

Group Implements Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies in Keene’s Local Economy

Photo: David McBee/Pexels/Technoblog

However, the deal was very successful and turned a part of the small town of New Hampshire into a “liberal paradise” whose economy began to function without the use of dollars. At the request of Freeman, at least 20 establishments have adopted cryptocurrency payments.

The Free Keen Project describes itself as a “New Hampshire independence activism” group. All its participants are longtime supporters of digital currencies like bitcoin and have been enriched by the asset’s appreciation in recent years. In early 2021, the group established a “Bitcoin Embassy” in Keene, a small room next to a convenience store that housed a cryptocurrency ATM.

While prosecutors allege that “defendants knowingly operated a digital currency exchange in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations,” defense attorneys describe the bill in more idealistic terms: “The defendants are liberal political people. There was a loosely affiliated group of the U.K.’s leanings that included a strong belief that bitcoin was a major step forward for those defending human liberty.”

However, the US Department of Justice said the group had formed a series of frontline religious institutions to avoid trace of their operations, claiming that the entire deal was in fact charitable contributions, drawing the attention of tax officials. . The defendants have been released on bail and the trial is scheduled for October 22, 2021. He has been charged with fraud, money laundering and tax offenses.

with information: ledge

FBI chases down activists who implemented bitcoin in US city

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About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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