DOJ Press Release United States Attorney Jane E. Young, announced that a federal jury convicted Ian Freeman, 42, of Keene, on all counts of money laundering, conspiracy to launder money, operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, and tax evasion (four counts).
According to trial exhibits and witness testimony during the ten-day trial, Freeman laundered over ten million dollars in proceeds of romance scams and other internet frauds by exchanging U.S. dollars for bitcoin. By failing to register his business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as required by law, disabling “know your customer” features on his bitcoin kiosks, and ensuring that bitcoin customers did not tell him what they did with their bitcoin, among other things, Freeman created a business that catered to fraudsters. By charging exorbitant fees, Freeman made in excess of a million dollars. Link to Tweet
Records and exhibits proved that as part of the conspiracy, Freeman and his co-conspirators opened and operated accounts at financial institutions in the names of various churches including the Shire Free Church, the Church of the Invisible Hand, the Crypto Church of New Hampshire and the NH Peace Church. Freeman instructed bitcoin customers, who were often victims of scams, to lie to the financial institutions and describe their deposits as church donations. From 2016 to 2019, he paid no taxes, and concealed his income from the Internal Revenue Service.
“The culture of scamming through the internet has become a pervasive societal problem. These scammers get away with their crimes, which often victimize some of our most vulnerable citizens, by hiding their tracks, including the money trail,” said U.S. Attorney Young. “Money launderers such as Ian Freeman are the ones who help hide the money for these scammers. Today’s swift verdict sends a strong message that this type of money laundering will not be tolerated. Stopping scammers by disrupting their methods for hiding their tracks is an important federal objective. This prosecution is an important step in meeting that objective.”
“Today’s verdict proves Ian Freeman operated a large-scale multi-million-dollar virtual currency business under the guise of a religious organization receiving charitable contributions that broke numerous laws to evade detection. As a member of this criminal conspiracy, Mr. Freeman took advantage of the emotions and bank accounts of unwitting victims to line his own pockets,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Make no mistake, the FBI will continue its longstanding tradition of following the money, whether physical, or digital, to expose criminal schemes like this one, and the fraudsters behind them. We thank the jury for its service and its decision to hold Mr. Freeman accountable.”