Man Sentenced for Fraud and Operating Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business
Assistant U. S. Attorney Jonathan I. Shapiro (619) 546-8225
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – May 28, 2019
SAN DIEGO – Morgan Rockcoons of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia to 21 months in prison for wire fraud and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Judge Battaglia also ordered Rockcoons to forfeit $80,600 in illicit profits.
Rockcoons, a U.S. citizen, has been in custody since his arrest on October 29, 2018. He pleaded guilty on March 7, 2019, admitting that he operated a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. He also admitted to devising a scheme to defraud individuals in connection with the purported sale of real estate in Elko County, Nevada, that he did not own.
According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, Rockcoons advertised his Bitcoin exchange services on the website LocalBitcoins.com. In 2015, HSI identified Rockcoons as the most prolific San Diego-based seller. In April 2016, the defendant’s LocalBitcoins.com profile showed that he continued to advertise as a trader and seller of Bitcoin in San Diego, with his profile reflecting that he had engaged in more than 500 transactions. As of October 2017, the defendant’s profile indicated that he conducted more than 1,000 bitcoin trades with more than 644 people. Rockcoons received a commission of as much as 36 percent per transaction.
Prior to his 2018 arrest, Rockcoons was indicted on November 8, 2017 for operating the unlicensed money transmitting business. He was arrested on that charge on February 9, 2018, and he was released on bond pending trial. In spring 2018, while on pretrial release, Rockcoons began promoting Bitcointopia on the internet and via social media. A purported real estate development in the desert in Elko County, Nevada, Rockcoons touted Bitcointopia as a place where bitcoin is “legal tender.” On the website, Rockcoons offered parcels of land for sale for Bitcoin, claiming: “The land is currently owned by Bitcointopia, Inc. corporation.” Rockcoons further stated, “500-1,000 Acre plots are for sale for 0.5 BTC per acre.” Victims who sent Rockcoons Bitcoin never received their title to land as promised. To date, agents have identified at least 10 victims of Rockcoons’ fraud. The two cases were combined in a superseding indictment.
DEFENDANT Case Number 17cr3690-AJB
Morgan Rockcoons Age: 31 Las Vegas, NV
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Operation of Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1960(a)
Maximum penalty: Five years in prison and $250,000 fine
Wire Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1960(a)
Maximum penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine
Homeland Security Investigations