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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chicago Trader Facing Federal Fraud Charge for Allegedly Misappropriating $2 Million in Cryptocurrencies

CHICAGO — In the first criminal prosecution in Chicago involving the cryptocurrency trading industry, a Chicago trader was charged today with fraud for allegedly misappropriating $2 million in Bitcoin and Litecoin.

JOSEPH KIM, 24, of Chicago, was charged in a federal criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud.  He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Feb. 16, 2018, at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel G. Martin in Courtroom 1743 of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago.

Kim worked as an assistant trader for Consolidated Trading LLC, a Chicago trading firm that recently formed a cryptocurrency group to engage in cryptocurrency trading, the complaint states.  Over a two-month period in the fall of last year, Kim misappropriated at least $2 million of the firm’s Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrency for his own personal benefit, and he made false statements and representations to the company’s management in order to conceal the theft, according to the complaint.

The complaint was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

According to the complaint, from September through November 2017, Kim transferred more than $2 million of the trading firm’s Bitcoin and Litecoin to personal accounts to cover his own trading losses, which had been incurred while trading cryptocurrency futures on foreign exchanges.  In order to conceal the transfers, Kim lied to the firm’s management about the location of the company’s cryptocurrency and his trading of the company’s cryptocurrency, the complaint states.  Consolidated’s management team discovered the misappropriation in late November, the complaint states.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sunil Harjani and Sheri Mecklenburg.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Updated February 15, 2018