The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has arrested three Miami men who were allegedly involved in a scheme to steal millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies from an undisclosed crypto exchange and other banks in America.
Three Men Defrauded Banks, Crypto Exchange
According to the DOJ announcement, the defendants Esteban Cabrera Da Corte, Luis Hernandez Gonzalez, and Asdrubal Ramirez Meza organized the scheme, which lasted several months in 2020, to defraud U.S. banks and a crypto exchange of over $4 million in 2020.
The trio purchased more than $4 million worth of digital currencies from the unidentified trading company using fake U.S. passports and driver’s licenses obtained from other people to open accounts on the platform and successfully executed their plan. The accounts, however, were linked to bank accounts in the U.S., which were also owned and managed by the trio.
After purchasing the cryptocurrencies from the exchange, the men would transfer the assets to an external wallet before calling the banks to report the transactions as unauthorized transactions, claiming victims of fraud and compelling the banks to reverse the transactions.
The banks would reimburse them, and the scheme continued until the affected banks recorded more than $4 million in fraudulent reversals and the undisclosed crypto exchange lost more than $3.5 million in digital assets.
“As alleged, Esteban Cabrera Da Corte, Luis Hernandez Gonzalez, and Asdrubal Ramirez Meza used stolen identities to buy a cryptocurrency and then doubled down by disputing the transactions, deceiving U.S. banks into believing that they themselves were the victims of someone else’s fraud. Thanks to the efforts of HSI’s El Dorado Task Force, their duplicity has been uncovered, and they now face serious federal charges,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.
Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft
The defendants allegedly scammed the trading platform with its assets sent to another wallet address outside the exchange and the banks that repaid the funds used for the purchases.
According to the authorities, the offenders cashed out the proceeds generated from the scheme through wire transfers, cashier’s checks, and ATM withdrawals.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged the trio in the Southern District of New York with multiple offenses, including wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, for exploiting both the crypto market and the U.S. financial system.
The defendants will appear in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for trial, the DOJ said.