A Richardson man who calls himself “Doctor Bitcoin” pleaded guilty to illegally operating a cash-to-cryptocurrency conversion business, said acting US attorney for the northern district of Texas Prerak Shah.
Mark Alexander Hopkins, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday to running an unlicensed money transfer company. (He was charged with a criminal complaint on July 29, 2021.)
“This defendant ignored federal laws and allowed fraudsters to use Bitcoin to operate under the radar of law enforcement,” said acting US Attorney Prerak Shah. “We are determined to rid the Bitcoin marketplace of anyone who knowingly helps criminal actors hide illegal profits in crypto wallets.”
According to the pleading papers, Mr. Hopkins admitted to running a company that exchanged US dollars for cryptocurrency, mostly Bitcoin, for a fee. He admitted that he had frequently sent BTC to customers’ crypto wallets without taking any additional steps to verify the source of the funds.
In September 2019, a customer identified as “MH” in court documents reached out to Mr. Hopkins to convert US dollars into BTC. The money Mr. Hopkins received from MH came from a lottery scam he carried out with a co-conspirator in Nigeria.
Mr Hopkins admitted that he had promised not to interfere in the details of MH’s business dealings, but told MH how to circumvent financial institution reporting by keeping deposits below $ 9,500 and instructed MH to notify financial institutions through the Purpose of business to lie to:
“I started out as a marketing firm, so tell them you’re paying for a marketing campaign,” he said.
Over the course of about a year, Mr. Hopkins completed 37 transactions with MH that converted between $ 550,000 and $ 1.5 million, he said.
The defendant admitted that he was not licensed to conduct money transfer business or registered as a money transfer company with the US Treasury Department in the states in which he practiced. He failed to comply with federal laws requiring money transfer companies to verify customers’ names, dates of birth, and addresses – a law aimed at identifying those involved in illegal activity – and failed to provide currency transaction reports for quality cash – Submit in transactions.
Hopkins now faces up to five years in federal prison.
The Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. U.S. Assistant Attorney Sid Mody is pursuing the case.