Richardson man known as ‘Doctor Bitcoin’ pleads guilty to illegal cash-to-cryptocurrency business

A Richardson man who goes by the nickname “Doctor Bitcoin” has pleaded guilty to illegally working a business that transformed money to cryptocurrency.

Mark Alexander Hopkins, 42, was indicted in March on one federal depend of operation of an unlicensed cash transmitting business. He pleaded guilty Tuesday and faces up to 5 years in jail.

According to court docket paperwork, Hopkins admitted that he ran a business the place he would take U.S. forex and convert it to cryptocurrency, often Bitcoin, for a negotiated charge. If the shoppers had been native, he would meet them in individual to decide up the money.

But Hopkins was not licensed to function such a business in Texas, nor was his business registered with the Treasury Department, authorities stated. He additionally didn’t take steps to confirm his clients’ private data or the supply of their money, and he failed to report transactions involving giant quantities of money.

In one occasion, a buyer whose funds had been linked to a Nigerian lottery rip-off requested him to convert his money to Bitcoin, court docket paperwork say. Hopkins knew the shopper had a accomplice in Nigeria however stated that he didn’t need to become involved in any business dealings.

Authorities stated Hopkins suggested the shopper on how to keep away from reporting necessities by retaining deposits beneath $9,500 and to lie to banks about what the business was doing.

“I’m arrange as a advertising and marketing firm, so inform them you’re paying for a advertising and marketing marketing campaign,” he stated. “If they want extra particulars, say you’re utilizing me to rent bloggers and stuff.”

That buyer had 37 transactions with Hopkins from September 2019 to October 2020, authorities stated, totaling between $550,000 and $1.5 million.

“This defendant ignored federal legislation and allowed fraudsters to use Bitcoin to function underneath the radar of legislation enforcement,” performing U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah stated in a written assertion. “We are decided to rid the Bitcoin market of anybody who knowingly helps prison actors stash illegal earnings inside crypto wallets.”

A decide allowed Hopkins to stay free till his sentencing date, which has not been set.

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