US law agencies can celebrate another success in their tireless crusade to stop ‘unlicensed money transmitting’ in the land of the free. The latest victory is sending a 24-year old crime kingpin to federal prison for making $40,000 from trading bitcoin offline.
Eldon Stone Ross, a 24-year-old from Kennett Square borough of Chester County, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced on Wednesday to serve a year and a day in federal prison for buying and selling large amounts of bitcoin to people without reporting the transactions to the US government.
The young man supposedly sold $1.5 million in bitcoin for almost two years but made only $40,000 (a mere 2.6%) in commissions, which he now has to hand over to the government in addition to his year-long prison sentence. He has been convicted for conducting an unlicensed money transmitting business between January 2015 and November 2016 and failing to report the fiat to bitcoin transactions.
“We don’t see many of these cases. It’s the first I’ve done here,” said Bert Glenn, the assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the matter in Philadelphia. “If people can go to someone like Ross who is dealing outside the institutional market, it adds to their anonymity,” he warned.
Ross admitted in October 2017 to selling $50,000 worth of bitcoin to undercover federal agents related to Homeland Security Investigations. In each case, they reported he “failed to obtain identifying information from the agents,” according to court records. Like in previous such cases across the US, the authorities claim that by not conducting exchange-like know-your-customer (KYC) procedures and reporting to the Department of the Treasury, the bitcoin seller was enabling money laundering.
Interestingly, the 24-year old was already in prison for drug offenses according to the Philadelphia Inquirer during some of the time in which he is supposed to have been operating the illegal money transmitting business. After his new prison term is over, Ross will be under another three more years of supervised release.