Austin Nedved, 29, of Northborough, pleaded guilty in federal court to aiding and abetting wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy on Thursday, December 17.
Nedved’s charges derived from $600,000 in fraud schemes targeting elderly victims, agreeing to launder the proceeds of such schemes and other criminal activity.
Nedved admitted that from at least 2017 through 2019, Nedved aided and abetted romance and lottery schemes targeting vulnerable victims.
In romance schemes, a scammer targets victims to send money abroad to people they believe to be romantic interests, while in lottery schemes victims are convinced that they can obtain lottery winnings or sizeable government grants by forwarding cash for administrative fees or expenses to the fraudsters.
Despite knowing or being willfully blind to the fact that his customers were fraud victims, Nedved sold Bitcoin to them so they could send money overseas to the fraudsters.
On June 25, 2018, in a parking lot in Kittery, Maine, a victim gave Nedved a cashier’s check to purchase approximately $100,000 in bitcoin. Nedved then released approximately $100,000 in Bitcoin, less his commission, to a Bitcoin wallet controlled by unidentified third parties. On June 29, 2018, in Leominster, Nedved and a co-conspirator took another $40,000 from a victim.
Nedved and co-conspirators, in exchange for payment, converted to Bitcoin more than $630,000 in cash that they received from others, knowing that the cash are proceeds of romance and lottery scams and other unlawful activities.
The charges of aiding and abetting wire fraud provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.
The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the financial transactions that were the object of conspiracy.