IRS:CI 2023 Top Ten Tax Crimes: No. 4--Bitcoin Money Laundering Scheme

money launderingIn the fourth case in our countdown of the IRS:CI 2023 Top Ten Tax Crimes, a longtime crusader for the use of Bitcoin to replace currency is going to prison and paying back (in cash) the $3.5 million he swindled.


New Hampshire resident and radio host Ian Freeman long promoted bitcoin as a substitute for U.S. currency. Through his business, 43-year-old Mr. Freeman disabled required investor reporting features, committed tax fraud, and helped others conduct internet frauds like romance scams and other schemes.


The bitcoin business of Mr. Freeman was not registered with the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCen) and Mr. Freeman avoided asking his customers the purpose of their transactions, as required by FinCen. Noted Special Agent, Jodi Cohen, "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 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."


After Mr. Freeman circumvented regulatory registration and reporting protocols, he laundered more than ten million dollars for himself and other fraudsters, according to the IRS. Mr. Freeman’s illegal money laundering business was used by digital criminals who targeted women through romance scams and traded cash for bitcoin through Mr. Freeman’s exchange. In addition to laundering the scam proceedings, Mr. Freeman charged high fees for his services, banking over one million dollars.


Mr. Freeman failed to file and pay taxes between 2016 and 2019 while at the same time opening shell businesses disguised as churches, including the Church of the Invisible Hand, Crypto Church of New Hampshire, and the Shire Free Church. Mr. Freeman directed scam victims to make deposits to the churches as “church donations.”


In the end, Mr. Freeman will be spending the next eight years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. Fined $40,000, Mr. Freeman will also pay $3.5 million in restitution to 29 victims, while also forfeiting assets obtained through his fraudulent behavior.


As noted in the press release from the IRS regarding Mr. Freeman, IRS:CI is the unit of the IRS with jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code and they currently sport an approximate 90 percent conviction rate. If you are on the wrong side of IRS regulations at present, speak with an experienced criminal tax attorney for guidance.


Are you engaged in a tax crime or concerned about compliance? Connect with us before the IRS does

With offices in Cleveland and Chicago, the tax group at Robert J. Fedor, Esq., LLC represents clients faced with tax controversy, questions of business or tax compliance, or tax crime. When you need skilled tax advice locally or abroad, contact us or call 440-250-9709.


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