Localbitcoins User Pleads Guilty to Running Unlicensed Crypto Business — Faces Up to 5 Years in Prison

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A cryptocurrency trader has been convicted in the U.S. for operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business using Localbitcoins and Paxful. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Crypto Trader Pleads Guilty

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to take action against crypto traders using services such as Localbitcoins and Paxful to buy and sell cryptocurrencies as a business without a license. The latest such case involved Hien Ngoc Vo, a 49-year-old man from Seattle, Washington, who operated an unlicensed crypto business in Houston, Texas.

The DOJ announced Wednesday that Vo has pleaded guilty to running an unlicensed money transmitting business in the Houston area between March 16 and June 8, 2016. The Department of Justice detailed:

Vo used Paxful and Localbitcoins to buy and sell bitcoin … He profited from sales by collecting a percentage of the transactions which ranged from 5-30%.

Within the three months specified, Vo’s unlicensed business received and transmitted approximately $515,147.19 in BTC, the DOJ described, adding that customers paid him in cash, direct bank deposits, American Express credit cards as well as Amazon and generic gift cards.

However, “During the transactions, Vo did not ask clients for any form of identification nor the purpose for which they were purchasing the cryptocurrency,” the Justice Department noted.

Noting that Vo is permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing on Sept. 5, the DOJ concluded:

Vo faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

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Kevin Helms

A student of Austrian Economics, Kevin found Bitcoin in 2011 and has been an evangelist ever since. His interests lie in Bitcoin security, open-source systems, network effects and the intersection between economics and cryptography.




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