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DOJ Arrests Two Estonians in $575 Million Crypto Money Laundering Scheme

DOJ | Release | Nov 21, 2022

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Two Estonian citizens were arrested in Tallinn, Estonia, yesterday on an 18-count indictment for their alleged involvement in a $575 million cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

  • According to court documents, Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin, both 37, allegedly defrauded hundreds of thousands of victims through a multi-faceted scheme. They induced victims to enter into fraudulent equipment rental contracts with the defendants’ cryptocurrency mining service called HashFlare. They also caused victims to invest in a virtual currency bank called Polybius Bank. In reality, Polybius was never actually a bank, and never paid out the promised dividends.
  • Victims paid more than $575 million to Potapenko and Turõgin’s companies. Potapenko and Turõgin then used shell companies to launder the fraud proceeds and to purchase real estate and luxury cars.

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U.S. Attorney Nick Brown for the Western District of Washington:

The size and scope of the alleged scheme is truly astounding. These defendants capitalized on both the allure of cryptocurrency, and the mystery surrounding cryptocurrency mining, to commit an enormous Ponzi scheme. They lured investors with false representations and then paid early investors off with money from those who invested later. They tried to hide their ill-gotten gain in Estonian properties, luxury cars, and bank accounts and virtual currency wallets around the world. U.S. and Estonian authorities are working to seize and restrain these assets and take the profit out of these crimes.

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