Rossen G. Iossifov, the Bitcoin Exchange owner who was accused of laundering money for a Romanian gang putting up fake car listings on eBay, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. According to the Department of Justice, Iossifov was sentenced “for conspiracy to commit a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) offense and conspiracy to commit money laundering.” Based on the evidence submitted to court, Iossifov knowingly assisted the gang of fraudsters in laundering the proceeds of their fraudulent scheme while taking steps to protect himself from criminal liability.
The DOJ busted the Romanian fraudsters back in 2019, and 20 people were accused of RICO, wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering offenses. Iossifov’s business, the Bulgaria-based RG Coins, was one of the two exchanges authorities identified for the money laundering part of the operation. The DOJ says the gang posed as military looking to sell their cars on Craigslist and eBay before deployment. They made their profiles look legitimate by stealing images and names from real people in order to convince buyers to pay them first before delivery, and their profiles looked convincing enough to scam at least 900 Americans.
The money laundering aspect of the operation was pretty complex. US-based associates accepted payment from victims before converting the fund into cryptocurrency and transferring the coins to the foreign money launderers. Iossifov was one of those, the DOJ says, and at least five of his principal clients were from the Romanian gang known in court as the Alexandria (Romania) Online Auction Fraud (AOAF) Network. Apparently, he provided favorable exchange rates to AOAF members and allowed their transactions to go through without requiring any identification or documentation to show the source of funds.
The DOJ submitted evidence in court showing that Iossifov laundered nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency for four of the five scammers in less than three years. He made $184,000 from those transactions and, while he may get out early, will have to serve 85 percent of his prison sentence. Iossifov is the latest person connected to the scheme that’s been convicted: US courts had sentenced 16 AOAF Network members in the past, though most of them received shorter prison sentences.