BOSTON (AP) – A Massachusetts man has admitted his role in more than $ 600,000 in fraud schemes aimed at elderly victims, federal prosecutors said.
Austin Nedved, 29, of Northborough, pleaded guilty Thursday to aiding and abetting wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Nedved admitted that he bought and sold digital currencies, including Bitcoin, for cash, advertising his services on two online businesses. For at least two years, he has been aiding and abetting romance schemes where victims are targeted to send money abroad to people they believe to be romantic interests and lottery schemes where victims believe they can get lottery winnings or government grants by sending cash for fees and expenses to fraudsters, prosecutors said.
In one case in late 2017, a person named “Jonathan G” led a 78-year-old victim to believe on social media that he was a businessman from Weston, Massachusetts, who owned an oil company. Without meeting him, the victim agreed to marry him, prosecutors said. “Jonathan G.” then told the victim he needed money to settle obligations over an overseas oil company accident in which people had died and could not return to the United States to marry the victim until he did, the U.S. attorney’s office said. “Jonathan G.” told the victim to pay it in Bitcoin.
The victim contacted Nedved and handed him a check at a Kittery, Maine car park on June 25, 2018, to purchase approximately $ 100,000 in Bitcoin. Nedved released about $ 100,000 in Bitcoin, without his commission into a Bitcoin wallet controlled by “Jonathan G,” prosecutors said.
“In total, Nedved and co-conspirators, in exchange for payment, converted to Bitcoin more than $ 630,000 in cash they had received from others, knowing that the cash amounted to romance proceeds and lottery scams and other illegal activities. They then either returned the proceeds in Bitcoin to the source of the cash or sent the Bitcoin proceeds to unknown third parties, ”the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Nedved is in custody in Kentucky serving a sentence for a separate fraud conviction. A lawyer could not be found representing him. He is expected to be sentenced in April.