A YouTuber known as “Captain,” who ran a hi-tech science lab for kids and authored a book called Surviving Life With Your Gigantic Penis, has admitted to using Bitcoin to wash over $740,000 on behalf of clients including drug dealers.
Christopher Allan Boden this week fessed up to money laundering, running an illegal money transmitting business, and evading reporting requirements.
Boden owned Michigan-based The Geek Group, later known as The National Science Institute, until it closed doors following a federal raid in December 2018.
Boden claims he turned to crime purely to raise enough money to fund the business which, in a Facebook post shortly after the raid, he described as “broke as a joke.”
According to a plea agreement filed by federal prosecutors, Boden’s scheme began in early 2017, when he announced he would exchange Bitcoin for cash — no questions asked.
Boden found a number of clients via a sign in the Geek Group’s shopfront window.
Over the course of nearly two years, Boden and his team purchased Bitcoin, often from legit exchanges, before selling it on. Their customers included illicit operations including drug dealers.
Cash proceeds were paid to accounts in chunks of less than $10,000 to avoid US banking reporting requirements. Boden then used this money to buy more Bitcoin.
Alongside his co-defendants, Boden continued illegally selling BTC until December 2018, when an FBI agent posing as a drug dealer approached him about swapping $15,000 in fiat for Bitcoin.
The crew laundered around $740,000 worth of Bitcoin by the time authorities shut them down.
Prosecutors not interested in excuses for washing Bitcoin
Speaking in his defense, Boden’s lawyers said:
“He sold it to others at a small profit, to help pay the mortgage for the building, keep the utilities on, and to pay for education programming at the Geek Group.”
“Despite the loss of his life’s work, his company, staff, reputation, and nearly everything he owns, Boden continues working to this day to educate, inspire, and entertain anyone with a sincere and passionate desire to learn about science and technology,” they added.
Boden’s legal team also attempted to plead ignorance. They explained he didn’t know he had to register due to the small size of the Bitcoin transactions.
However, despite their pleas, prosecutors look unlikely to take too sympathetic a view.
US attorney for the western district of Michigan, Andrew Birge said in an official statement:
“Cryptocurrency is not a license or invitation to commit crime.”
“We will root out and prosecute crypto criminals wherever we find them. Whether cryptocurrency will be with us for years to come remains to be seen, but its vitality is contingent upon the willingness of those who use it to follow the law,” (our emphasis).
Boden will be sentenced in February and could face up to 20 years in prison.
EDIT: 18:53, October 20: Updated figures in headline, Boden laundered $740,000 with Bitcoin, not $740 million as was initially reflected. We apologize for the mistake.
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