back to article As it turns out, no, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange

A 21 year old man from Mexico is facing more than two-dozen money laundering charges in the US for running an unlicensed Bitcoin exchange. Jacob Burrell Campos was said to have shifted nearly $1m in funds by both buying and selling Bitcoins to people around the world. Campos, who lives in Mexico's Baja California state, was …

  1. Mayday Silver badge
    Pirate

    Oh dear

    Whilst being an advocate of the "do the crime, do the time" argument, I do feel that the yanks are wayyyyyy harsh in a lot of their "justice" and sentencing processes.

    Having said that, multiple border crossings on consecutive days into USA with just under the declarable amount of $10k (as per the attached doc) is really asking for trouble. He know's he's doing wrong there.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear

      I do feel that the yanks are wayyyyyy harsh in a lot of their "justice" and sentencing processes.

      Well, in some cases. This guy could get sentenced to the rest of his live in jail.

      However, if he was working for an international bank, then he could get off with a slap on the wrist and a fine. Admittedly HSBC was fined $1.9B, which sounds like a lot until you realise it was about 7% of their profits for that year. Not that HSBC helped to launder money of course, oh no, they merely had a "compliance failing".

      After all, it's hardly their fault that they "severely understaffed" their oversight department in Mexico where "cartel operatives would sometimes deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a single day using boxes designed to fit the exact dimensions of the teller's window at HSBC branches". And of course, the amount of money they were making off of these transactions had no bearing whatsoever on their reluctance to carefully examine what their bank was being used for.

      So no, the US is not "wayyyyyy harsh", it's much more selective than that, and I'm sure that this guy's sentence will have no bearing on him not having contributed to any politicians' election fund.

    2. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear

      They are only overly harsh if you are a normal person. If you're wealthy, a celebrity, a politician, or major political donor then you may never see the inside of a jail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh dear

        I hope by they you are including most of the developed world because that is not a US only problem. Sure don't see those footballers getting the same sentence as you would for tax evasion (even though your amount would be dwarfed of course).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

    I hate to be a literalist¹, but as your article clearly reports, yes, you most definitely can.

    It is a terrible idea and you will get collared for it, but you can.

    ¹ Too many years writing code.

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

      You're wrong, and the article explains it. A bitcoin exchange is a money transmitting business and they require state and federal licences.

      1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

        You're wrong, and the article explains it

        You've fallen foul of the difference between "you can't" and "you may not". It most certainly is *possible* to run such a thing. The law doesn't *permit* it, but that doesn't make it impossible.

        1. Insert sadsack pun here

          Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

          I feel dirty and ashamed. This is what happens when a pendant is hanged from their own canard.

          1. Alistair Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

            That was a rather punny reference.

        2. Lusty Silver badge

          Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

          Ah developer misunderstandings, my favourite joke

          "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get 6?"

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

      "It is a terrible idea"

      If you don't have some TLA fanclub or other Big Player supporting you, that is.

    3. Adrian Harvey
      Headmaster

      Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

      Not quite grammatical enough in your literalism - the can’t here applies to the just, not to the run alone. So he can run one, but he can’t just run one.

      The reason he can’t just run one is that another thing will also happen - viz: getting collared for the crime.

      Clear as mud?

  3. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    As always the worst crime there is, is denying the government their cut of any money transaction that occurs (tax). I wish him luck, he's going to need it.

    1. ZeroDrop

      I think the question gets down to this - no dealing with money without paying taxes. This is to be free, right? #irony

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    Why not use a Mexican Bank?

    See title.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

      My guess is because they would want more than the 5% commission he was getting...

      1. Michael Nidd

        Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

        May also relate to the whole "reporting suspicious transactions" bit.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

          > May also relate to the whole "reporting suspicious transactions" bit.

          and who they might be reporting to, what with Zetas and others being in residence there.

          1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

            Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

            Zetas and others

            That may actually be the reason why not. The said "Zetas and others" may well want a cut, and the penalty for not giving them a cut (in the money sense) will be them giving him a cut. In the "throat" sense.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

      The Mexican drug cartels used a British bank, HSBC, to launder their money. I presume there was a reason for choosing them.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

        Well, they used Grupo Financiero Bital, which after 2004 was bought and rebranded as HSBC Mexico, under the direction of HSBC US, so I'd imagine the reasons were "We know where you live" and "Here's a big bag of money if you just shut up and help".

        It still amuses me that people think of the Hong Kong and Shanghai as a British bank - may be HQ'd here, its not a British bank.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

          Well what nationality is it then? Assuming a publicly traded entity has such a thing?

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

            "Well what nationality is it then?"

            Depends where the tax breaks are.

            1. Locky Silver badge

              Re: Why not use a Mexican Bank?

              The smart ones don't need tax breaks. They just transfer the money every few hours

              As long as the sun doesn't set on the balance, you don't pay the tax

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    His only crime was to not think large enough.

    If he'd money laundered billions for a nation state to avoid sanctions, he'd be sitting pretty with a cozy 'lets have a chat together, come up with a no-acceptance-of-liability-payment' and get off scott free.

  6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...unlicensed Bitcoin exchange..."

    Crypto currency is 'a form of property (as the Internal Revenue Service has ruled) or commodity (in the view of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission)...'. In other words, it's not money. It's legally equivalent to a box of bolts. Arguably...

    I can see this going all the way to the US Supreme Court. Which is very unfortunate for the accused party; it'd be better for him to just plead guilty and accept the several-year sentence, rather than spend the rest of his life in courts sitting on rock-hard wooden pews. At least in prison you have a mattress to relax upon.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "...unlicensed Bitcoin exchange..."

      Property exchange CAN be regulated, however. I think the latest call is that e-currency is a security, like a stock or bond, so regulation is done via the SEC.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...unlicensed Bitcoin exchange..."

      > In other words, it's not money

      What about the other, green half of the exchange?

  7. DownUndaRob

    America != World

    Has anyone pointed out that this guy lives *in Mexico* therefore is subject to Mexican law, not US law...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: America != World

      Nope. He crossed INTO the US at Otay Mesa, San Diego. Once you're on American soil, you're subject to American laws, full stop.

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