Bitcoin regulation has been a hot topic in the news recently, with Vietnam banning cryptocurrencies, and South Korea deciding to regulate Bitcoin as a commodity, rather than a currency. But recent news from the USA shows that the authorities are also cracking down on unlicensed individuals who deal in cryptocurrencies.
A man from Michigan, named Bradley Anthony Stetkiw, has been charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The charges have been filed in a US district court, and many of the details read like the story from an espionage movie.
Stetkiw was caught as the result of a sting operation, carried out by federal agents. These agents met Stetkiw several times and purchased over $55,000 worth of Bitcoins as a result of these meetings. Stetkiw also brokered deals with out of state sellers.
Stetkiw gave himself a nom de plume, ‘SaltandPepper’, and would meet his clients at Tim Horton’s restaurant. He also used the website LocalBitcoins to aid in his various transactions. He met the undercover agents a reported six times, with the agents acquiring 126 Bitcoin. According to the authorities, he did all this without being in possession of the proper licence for currency trading.
According to reports, Stetkiw stressed to the agents that he did not want to know what they were going to do with the Bitcoin they had purchased. This was because he did not want to knowingly sell to people who were engaged in any criminal activity.
What will transpire as a result of the case remains to be seen, but it highlights the continuing issue of acceptance of Bitcoin as a valid currency. The association of cryptocurrency with criminal activities is an issue which is likely to keep arising over the coming years, as government embrace the economic growth that cryptocurrency can bring, while also trying to minimise illegal activities.