Miami Trio Busted for $4M Crypto Bank Fraud

Updated by Geraint Price
In Brief
  • Miami trio were arrested for allegedly defrauding banks of nearly $4 million.
  • The three men used photos of fake identification documents to create false accounts.
  • They would inform their banks that the purchases had been unauthorized, then proceed to buy more crypto with the reimbursed funds.
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Three residents of Miami were arrested by U.S. authorities for allegedly defrauding banks to purchase millions of dollars in crypto.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan charged the three men, Esteban Cabrera Da Corte, Luis Hernandez Gonzalez, and Asdrubal Ramirez Meza, with several offenses, including wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The arrests were partly a result of the Department of Homeland Security’s decades-long program focused on money laundering, the El Dorado Task Force.

Trio stole identities to open accounts

The unsealed indictment revealed that the trio had opened false accounts at an unnamed leading cryptocurrency exchange using photos of fake U.S. passports and drivers’ licenses, which were then linked to their personal bank accounts. 

After purchasing cryptocurrency using the false accounts, the accused would then allegedly transfer it to external cryptocurrency wallets. Once the crypto was secure, they would call the banks to say that the purchases had been unauthorized, prompting the banks to reimburse them. 

Using the insurance money, procured through wire transfers, cashiers’ checks and ATM withdrawals, the accused would make further crypto purchases. These eventually amounted to more than $4 million in fraudulent reversals. 

Over the course of the scheme, which occurred during early 2020, the cryptocurrency exchange lost more than $3.5 million. According to prosecutors, they had defrauded the cryptocurrency exchange of both the cryptocurrency purchased, and the funds used to purchase it.

Crypto fraudsters scammed 2,000 investors

Earlier this month, a pair of crypto fraudsters were arrested for conducting a digital asset investment scam in which over 2,000 investors lost $1.9 million. Jeremy David McAlpine and Zachary Michael Matar, of Orange County in California, were both sentenced for their role in the Dropil investment scam. 

In 2017, the duo created a company in Belize under the pretext of managing digital asset investment products and created DROPs, a cryptocurrency for the project. An investor spreadsheet submitted to the SEC later claimed that Dropsil had raised $54 million from 34,000 investors within and outside the U.S. 

However, a further investigation revealed that the team had realized barely $2 million from fewer than 3,000 investors, which was then used to “fund disbursements to themselves and their associates.”

According to the Department of Justice, their actions caused “financial harm to an extremely large number of victims.”

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