It’s true. Bitcoin can offer some degree of anonymity. The tell has always been in the “on” and “off” ramps connected to the ledger.
These knuckleheads, as many before them, sought to utilize a system they did not understand for nefarious means. And as many before them, they were caught. Only this time, they worked for the National Guard.
Recently, five members of the District of Columbia Army National Guard were arrested for a bitcoin to credit card theft scheme. In the plot, Spcs. James Stewart and Derrick Shelton and former Sgt. Quentin Stewart allegedly used bitcoin to purchase credit card numbers. (Spc. Vincent Grant and Jamal Moody were involved too, but to a lesser extent.) Using a credit card encoding machine, they transferred the numbers to physical cards, then proceeded to make purchases. Once they racked up a good amount of illegally obtained merchandise, they started to sell their loot.
Until this point, all of this is pretty classic low-level criminal behavior. Hold on, it definitely gets better.
This group chose to make their purchases at Army and Air Force Exchange Service locations. The AAFES locations actually served a two fold purpose for these clowns. They also sold some of the stolen merchandise back to AAFES. After “successfully” completing a cycle or so of this activity they pooled their resources and kept the scam going.
All of this activity happened between July 2014 and May 2015. The two Stewarts and Shelton are believed to have made about 8 transactions totaling a little over $4,000. Grant and Moody racked up just over $2,000. All in the group, except Grant and Moody, could face up to 20 years if convicted. Further if convicted to any degree, all will receive the minimum two and a half year sentence for aggravated identity theft charges.
As for the swag that was worth these paltry sums? Mostly XBox and Playstation systems. No doubt the group read about bitcoin in some far-flung, dusty corner of the internet and had no idea what any of it meant. Guess they cannot be completely faulted for misunderstanding the technology. The real issue was probably that they were complete idiots to begin with.
Featured image from Shutterstock.