Bulgarian exchange owner convicted over auction fraud scheme

Rossen Iossifov, a 53-year-old Bulgarian national and owner of the ‘RG Coins’ cryptocurrency exchange, has been convicted of operating a multi-million dollar money laundering ring as part of a transnational auction fraud scheme.

Following a two-week trial Iossifov was found guilty by a federal jury in Frankfort, Kentucky, of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. The Kentucky resident will face sentencing on Jan. 12, 2021.

The jury found that at least 900 U.S. citizens were conned in a scheme that saw Iossifov’s Romaniabased accomplices post advertisements on popular auction platforms like eBay and Craigslist for high-value goods such as vehicles that did not exist.

According to a Department of Justice release, scammers would provide their victims with fraudulent documents and invoices featuring the trademarks of reputable companies to cultivate the appearance of legitimacy, and even employed call centers and “support staff” to alleviate their buyers’ concerns.

Once they had received payment, Iossifov would convert the funds into crypto assets and transfer the proceeds to off-shore money launderers. The jury found that Iossifov knowingly provided services to the criminal syndicate from at least September 2015 until December 2018 — exchanging more than $4.9 million worth of Bitcoin for four other members of the organization.

Arrests were carried out by U.S. state and federal authorities with assistance provided by the Romanian National Police and the Romanian Agency for Prosecuting Organized Crime.

Iossifov is the 17th defendant to have been convicted in the case, with three other fugitives currently at large. More than one dozen of the defendants were extradited from Romania.

RG Coins was founded in April 2014, with the website selling hardware wallets and facilitating cryptocurrency exchange for the Eastern European region.

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