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Federal authorities crack down on cryptocurrency fraud on Guam

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Guam and the CNMI vowed to continue clamping down on fraudulent operations involving cryptocurrency.

“Cryptocurrencies are often used to facilitate fraudulent activity,” Shawn Anderson, District Attorney for Guam and the CNMI, said following the sentencing of a man who has been convicted of cryptocurrency fraud that yielded $5.5 million in cash stolen from “bitcoin investors” on Guam.

“These financial assets do not guarantee anonymity, as generally perceived by criminals. Our office will continue to target unlicensed money transmitting, money laundering, and any other unlawful transactions associated with cryptocurrency," Anderson said.

Julien Abat Weymouth, 32, of Dededo, who pleaded guilty to “operating an unlawful money-transmitting business" last year, has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

The District Court of Guam also added three years of supervised release following imprisonment and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee, according to Shawn Anderson, District Attorney for Guam and the CNMI.

From January 2020 to April 2021, Weymouth was engaged in the operation of an unlawful money-transmitting business involving the exchange and transfer of cryptocurrency, primarily bitcoin.

Benjamin K. Petersburg, U.S. prosecutor, said Weymouth solicited cash and cryptocurrency from “clients" or "investors" on Guam, and transmitted the bitcoin to a conspirator, William Ichioka, located outside of Guam for purported investment purposes.  

Ichioka operated a fraudulent investment scheme known as Ichioka Ventures. Ichioka was prosecuted separately in the Northern District of California.

Weymouth guaranteed his clients and investors a percentage return on their alleged investment and kept any excess return over and above the guaranteed rate as his fee.  

As part of his scheme, Weymouth solicited and accepted funds and cryptocurrency from individuals involved in illegal activity.  

Operating as a cryptocurrency exchanger and engaged in the business of transmitting funds on behalf of others to third parties for a fee, he failed to register with FinCEN and failed to comply with federal regulations governing money transmitters.

During the time of his scheme, Weymouth transmitted funds and cryptocurrency worth approximately $5.5 million.

 He generated significant personal profits which he reinvested into various forms of cryptocurrency, held in bank accounts, and funded the purchase of vehicles and other assets.  

As part of his plea agreement, Weymouth stipulated the forfeiture of over 200 bitcoin with a present value of over $8 million, six vehicles, and $127,000 in a PenFed bank account.

“U.S. Secret Service Guam Resident Office is dedicated to protecting our nation’s citizens within the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands,” said Resident Agent in Charge Neal de Paz. “We appreciate federal law enforcement partners, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Guam Police Department, whose hard work and dedication ensured a successful outcome in this complex investigation.” 

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