Charlie Shrem Does AMA From Prison


Charlie ShremOnce the Vice Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and CEO of BitInstant, Charlie Shrem’s fall from grace, began at JFK airport in New York where police arrested him on charges of money laundering and acting as an unlicensed money transmitter. Authorities alleged Shrem laundered more than $1 million. Shrem faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Shrem’s true story starts with BitInstant and his nightlife lifestyle via his Bitcoin accepting club in New York. Shrem was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison for Silk Road related charges. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ordered Shrem to forfeit $950,000 after his pleading guilty in September last year.

“[Shrem] was knowingly, willfully, and to some extent excitedly, even passionately involved in activity that he knew was a serious violation of the law and that was promoting the evil business of trafficking in drugs,” Judge Rakoff said. Shrem ultimately penned a goodbye blog on his departure to prison. On Roger Ver’s new forum, located at Bitcoin.com, Shrem held an AMA from his prison. He wrote:

Hi Everyone,

I’m Charlie Shrem, Bitcoin pioneer, founder of Bitinstant, and currently serving time in federal prison for “operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy and willfully failing to file suspicious activity reports with banking authorities.”

Formal Complaint

I’ll be conducting this AMA using the federal prison email system.

The system automatically delays incoming and outgoing messages by 90 minutes, so the absolute earliest I can reply to each question would be three hours.

I will be at my computer answering these questions every weekday from 1:30 – 3:30pm EST, and nearly all day on the weekends.

Obviously I’m not writing all of this directly myself, but direct quotes of my own words will be in italics.

The government will be monitoring all of my communications, so it is possible that I won’t be allowed to answer some of your questions, but I will do my best!

Please post your questions below and we will keep going as long as it takes.

Thank you all!

Here are some of Shrem’s responses. First, he explains what he had done to be arrested:

In 2011 when I was 21 years old, I allowed a customer to buy Bitcoins via my company Bitinstant when I knew this customer was reselling these Bitcoins on Silk Road. I was irresponsible and I should have done more to block him from using our services. I dont blame anyone but myself and every day I think about all the people I let down.

He’s thought about life after prison:

I’ve had alot of time to think in here and some ideas and projects I want to work on when I get out. I’d love to work for a Bitcoin company and eventually move abroad. I think Bitcoin has much more potential to be integrated in places where infrastructure is lacking and I want to be on the ground doing just that. I’ve been teaching myself Spanish in here and becoming fluent. I’m also fluent in Hebrew and Arabic already. I have no limitations as to what I can do, and I plan on jumping right back into it. I’m going to take some time to be with family and friends when I get out and make my decisions the right way, but I look forward to seeing everyone!

On life after release:

When I’m released, the only restriction I have is travelling for the first few months. Other than that, I’m allowed to use the internet.

Roger Ver asked: “What is the most important lesson you have learned from your prison experience?” Charlie riposted:

So far I’ve learnt a few important things. I’ve learnt that I don’t know everything. I was a very arrogant person and let my ego get the best of me. I’ve learnt how to have patience and slow down my thinking. It’s very important to work through problems slowly and not jump at the first emotion. If there is a situation or event that causes you to have a negative reaction, taking a moment to challenge it and think, can be the difference between a good and bad decision. Responsibility, honesty, caring, objectivity, humility and gratitude are great attitudes to grow.

He explains what he did wrong in the first place:

In 2011 when I was 21 years old, I allowed a customer to buy Bitcoins via my company Bitinstant when I knew this customer was reselling these Bitcoins on Silk Road. I was irresponsible and I should have done more to block him from using our services. I dont blame anyone but myself and every day I think about all the people I let down.

Featured image from Shutterstock.