Ian Freeman Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Operating a Bitcoin Money Laundering Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Hampshire
CONCORD – Ian Freeman was sentenced today in federal court for laundering over ten million dollars in proceeds from romance scams and other internet fraud, U.S. Attorney Jane E. Young announces.
Ian Freeman, 43, of Keene was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Laplante to 96 months in prison, 2 years of supervised release, and a fine of $40,000. Freeman was ordered to pay restitution to victims in an amount to be determined on a later date. Freeman was convicted by a federal jury on December 22, 2022.
“The defendant’s criminal conduct devastated many vulnerable people,” said U.S. Attorney Jane E. Young. “Dozens of victims were identified during the investigation. Many of them lost their life’s savings by way of Freeman’s bitcoin money laundering scheme. The Court recognized that an important part of this sentence was for the defendant to provide restitution to the victims. In financial crimes cases such as this, providing restitution to victims is one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice and this Office.”
“Ian Freeman catered to fraudsters. He played a shell game with other people’s hard-earned money, turned a blind eye to the scam artists who were ripping them off, and walked away with millions, depriving their victims of their life’s savings. Today’s sentence is a significant step toward justice for the dozens of victims all over the country who have suffered significant financial losses and heartbreak as a result of this man’s criminal conduct,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “In addition to our efforts to disrupt outrageous schemes like this one, we must also work to raise public awareness to prevent them. Last year, New Hampshire residents reported losing almost $33 million due to internet-related crimes. So we caution everyone to be wary of people you meet online - especially when it comes to cryptocurrency.”
“Ian Freeman’s sentencing shows that IRS Criminal Investigation is working vigorously to stop internet fraudsters like Ian Freeman,” said Harry T. Chavis Jr, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Boston Field Office. “Not only did Freeman launder millions of dollars, but he also provided a conduit for other scammers to leave countless victims destitute in their wake. The role of IRS Criminal Investigation becomes even more important in internet fraud cases due to the complex financial transactions that can take time to unravel so that fraudsters like Ian Freeman can be brought to justice.”
Freeman laundered over ten million dollars in proceeds of romance scams and other internet frauds by exchanging U.S. dollars for bitcoin. By failing to register his business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as required by law, disabling “know your customer” features on his bitcoin kiosks, and ensuring that bitcoin customers did not tell him what they did with their bitcoin, among other things, Freeman created a business that catered to fraudsters. By charging exorbitant fees, Freeman made more than a million dollars.
Records and exhibits in the 10-day trial proved that as part of the conspiracy, Freeman and his co-conspirators opened and operated accounts at financial institutions in the names of various churches including the Shire Free Church, the Church of the Invisible Hand, the Crypto Church of New Hampshire, and the NH Peace Church. Freeman instructed bitcoin customers, who were often victims of scams, to lie to the financial institutions and describe their deposits as church donations. From 2016 to 2019, he paid no taxes, and concealed his income from the Internal Revenue Service.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, and the United States Postal Inspection Service led the investigation. The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team and the Department of Justice, Tax Division, provided valuable assistance in the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Georgiana L. MacDonald, John Kennedy, and Seth R. Aframe.
Updated October 2, 2023