Bitcoin exchange operator pleads guilty in U.S. case tied to JPMorgan hack

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By Nate Raymond

<span class="articleLocation”>A Florida man pleaded guilty on Monday to
charges that he conspired to operate an illegal bitcoin
exchange, which prosecutors said was owned by an Israeli who
oversaw a massive scheme to hack companies, including JPMorgan
Chase & Co.

Anthony Murgio, 33, entered his plea in federal court in
Manhattan to three counts, including conspiracy to operate an
unlicensed money transmitting business and conspiracy to commit
bank fraud, a month before he was to face trial.

Under a plea agreement, Murgio agreed not to appeal any
prison sentence of about 12-1/2 years in prison or less. U.S.
District Judge Alison Nathan scheduled his sentencing for June
16.

The Tampa, Florida-resident 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.

Prosecutors said Murgio operated Coin.mx, which without a
license exchanged millions of dollars into bitcoin, including
for victims of ransomware, a computer virus that seeks payment,
often in the virtual currency, to unlock data it restricts.

Prosecutors said Coin.mx was operated from 2013 to 2015
through several fronts, including one called “Collectables
Club,” to trick financial institutions into believing it was a
members-only group interested in collectables like stamps.

Coin.mx was owned by Israeli citizen Gery Shalon, according
to prosecutors, who say he and Maryland-born Joshua Samuel Aaron
orchestrated cyber attacks on companies. An attack on JPMorgan
resulted in the information of more than 100 million people
being stolen.

Prosecutors said the men carried out the cybercrimes to
further other schemes with another Israeli, Ziv Orenstein,
including pumping up stock prices with sham promotional
emails.

Murgio, who was not accused of engaging in the hacking
scheme, was tied not only to Shalon but also to Aaron.

Both men attended Florida State University, and in 2008 they
formed a business together. On his website, Murgio called Aaron “my friend” and said he “showed me the ropes to online
marketing.”

Aaron was deported from Russia in December and taken into
U.S. custody, while Shalon and Orenstein were extradited from
Israel in June. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Five other individuals have been charged in connection with
Coin.mx, including Murgio’s father. Two individuals linked to it
are scheduled to face trial on Feb. 6.

The case is U.S. v. Murgio et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-769.



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