CONCORD — Two Derry residents are among six people facing federal charges in connection with a fraudulent virtual currency exchange business, authorities announced recently

Renee Spinella, 23, and Andrew Spinella, 25, were indicted by a federal grand jury in New Hampshire and charged with participating in a conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and other offenses, Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley announced.

Also charged are Ian Freeman (formerly Ian Bernard), 40, of Keene, Colleen Fordham, 60, of Alstead, a man formerly named Richard Paul, 52, of Keene, and Aria DiMezzo (formerly James Baker), 34, of Keene, according to Farley's announcement.

Freeman, Fordham, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, and the man formerly named Richard Paul also are charged with wire fraud and participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Ian Freeman is charged with money laundering and operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise. Freeman and DiMezzo also are charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to the announcement.

According to the indictment, since 2016, the six individuals have operated a business that enabled customers to exchange over $10 million in fiat currency for virtual currency, charging a fee for their service. They operated their virtual currency exchange business using websites, as well as operating virtual currency ATM machines in New Hampshire, according to the announcement.

"The indictment alleges that the individuals knowingly operated the virtual currency exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations. In furtherance of their scheme, the indictment alleges that some defendants opened bank accounts in the names of purported religious entities ... some defendants then engaged in substantial efforts to evade detection of their unlawful virtual currency exchange scheme by avoiding answering financial institutions’ questions about the nature of the business and misleading financial institutions into believing their unlawful virtual currency exchange business was instead a religious organization receiving charitable contributions," according to the indictments.

All six people were arrested during a coordinated law enforcement action on Tuesday. They are scheduled for initial appearances before a United States Magistrate Judge on Tuesday afternoon.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service in coordination with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Georgiana L. MacDonald and Seth R. Aframe.

 

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