Man pleads guilty to running unlicensed cryptocurrency business in Houston in 2016

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Thursday, June 2, 2022
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 49-year-old Seattle man, Hien Ngoc Vo, has pleaded guilty to running an unlicensed cryptocurrency business in the Houston area, according to U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Vo reportedly admitted to operating the unlicensed business between March 16, 2016 and June 8, 2016.

According to an FBI investigation, Vo used Paxful and LocalBitcoins to buy and sell Bitcoin, which are websites where people can buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Vo profited from sales by collecting a percentage of the transactions, which ranged from 5-30%, and did not ask clients for any form of identification nor the purpose for which they were purchasing the cryptocurrency.

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Investigators reveal funds were received by Vo in the form of cash, direct bank deposits, American Express credit cards, as well as generic and Amazon gift cards.

While conducting his business, Vo used several bank accounts, which were later shut down after banks inquired where the funds were coming from.

The business also received and transmitted approximately $515,147.19 in Bitcoin during the course of three months, investigation shows.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal is set to impose Vo's sentencing in September. At that time he will face up to five years in federal prison and a possible maximum fine of $250,000.

Vo had been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing.

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"I feel like that's very untrustworthy, and you've been working here for years," a former student said.