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U.S. and Brazil Authorities Target “Bitcoin Sheik”

Brazilian police raided 20 locations throughout the country and seized cash and luxury items from a suspected leader of a transnational cryptocurrency fraud ring that is believed to have stolen nearly US$800 million from investors.

US Brazil BitcoinThe operation was a result of a probe conducted jointly by the Brazilian Federal Police, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and multiple law enforcement partners. (Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, License)The 37-year-old Brazilian national and former U.S. resident is accused of international money laundering, operating a criminal enterprise, fraud, and crimes against the national financial system, a statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

The operation was a result of a probe conducted jointly by the Brazilian Federal Police, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and multiple law enforcement partners.

The organization he led allegedly “deceived investors in over a dozen countries by falsely claiming that they had developed fully functioning, cutting-edge cryptocurrency-related financial products,” the statement explained.

In reality, the organization is believed to have advertised fraudulent partnerships and licenses that were used to lure victims into investing millions into almost worthless cryptocurrencies minted by the suspects.

Media in Brazil identified the suspected leader as Francisley Valdevino da Silva, nicknamed the ‘Bitcoin Sheik,’ who according to what officers found in his Curitiba residence was living a lavish lifestyle and had a passion for quotes from the Bible that were displayed on the walls.

Officers seized luxury cars, Rolex watches, cash and other items from the mansion.

“We are grateful to the Brazilian Federal Police for their continued partnership in combating transnational financial fraud schemes,” said HSI Brazil Acting Attaché Eric Cardiel. “This successful operation shows the importance of international collaboration when it comes to disrupting criminal organizations operating in multiple countries around the world.”




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