A Florida man is the latest individual to face criminal charges in connection with what U.S. prosecutors say was an illegal bitcoin exchange owned by an Israeli accused of being behind hacking attacks on companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co. Ricardo Hill, 38, was arrested last month in Florida and charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan with conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.
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A federal magistrate granted Hill’s release on Thursday on a $75,000 bond following a court appearance in Manhattan, court records show. A lawyer for Hill declined to comment. Hill, a resident of Brandon, Florida, is one of nine people to face charges following an investigation connected to a data breach that JPMorgan disclosed in 2014 involving records for more than 83 million accounts.
According to court papers, the charges stemmed from Hill’s employment as a finance support manager and business development consultant for an unlicensed bitcoin exchange called Coin.mx. Prosecutors have said Coin.mx was operated by another Florida man, Anthony Murgio, and owned by Gery Shalon, an Israeli accused of orchestrating a massive hacking scheme involving JPMorgan and other companies.
Prosecutors contend Shalon along with another Israeli, Ziv Orenstein, and an American, Joshua Samuel Aaron, ran a criminal enterprise that hacked into a dozen companies’ networks, stealing the personal information of over 100 million customers. While Hill and Murgio were not accused of roles in the hacking offenses, prosecutors said they committed crimes linked to the operation of Coin.mx, which exchanged millions of dollars of the virtual currency bitcoin for customers.
The complaint against Hill said that he and others profited from numerous bitcoin transactions conducted on behalf of victims of schemes involving ransomware, which locks up computer systems and then demands payments to remove the restriction. To date, two individuals have pleaded guilty in connection with the Coin.mx case. Murgio and two other men have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to face trial in February. Shalon and Orenstein pleaded not guilty following their extradition from Israel in June. Aaron is currently in Russia.
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