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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Two Florida men were arrested Tuesday in connection with an Internet Bitcoin exchange that involved more than $1 million.
Authorities arrested Anthony R. Murgio, 31, of Tampa and Yuri Lebedev, 37, of Jacksonville. Two other men were arrested in Israel, other media outlets have reported.
Since at least 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said Murgio, Lebedev and their co-conspirators operated the Bitcoin operation in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws.
Federal authorities said the suspects’ customers would exchange cash for Bitcoins and were charged a fee for the service.
“In doing so, they knowingly exchanged cash for people whom they believed may be engaging in criminal activity,” said a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
From around October 2013 to January 2015, the operation is suspected of exchanging at least $1.8 million for Bitcoins on behalf of tens of thousands of customers.
Murgio is accused of transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to bank accounts in Cyprus, Hong Kong, and Eastern Europe, and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank accounts in Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands.
Murgio and Lebedev are each charged with one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Murgio is also charged with one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and one count of willful failure to file a suspicious activity report, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.