A Miami gang leader has been sentenced to more than five years for masterminding a cryptocurrency scam that cost US banks and a cryptocurrency exchange more than $4 million.
Esteban Cabrera Da Corte was sentenced to a 63-month stint by a federal court in New York on November 29th for his role in the scheme, in which financial institutions were conned into making refunds to crooks who used stolen personal data to impersonate other people.
US attorney Damian Williams said: “Esteban Cabrera Da Corte orchestrated a scheme to steal millions of dollars by buying cryptocurrency using false and stolen identities, then deceiving US banks regarding those transactions.”
Cabrera Da Corte, 27, of Miami, Florida, now faces years in prison for the scam, which he ran in 2020 using stolen personally identifying information and fake driver’s licenses and passports. He and two other suspects were arrested in 2022 as US authorities launched a wider crackdown on crypto-related crime.
Cabrera Da Corte and his gang bought more than $4 million in cryptocurrency and then, in an ironic twist, deceived a leading platform and several banks by falsely claiming the purchases had been unauthorized, conning them into reversing the transactions and redepositing the money into bank accounts that they controlled.
This allowed the gang to essentially double their money by withdrawing these refunds while keeping the original cryptocurrency for themselves.
The cryptocurrency exchange and bank accounts operated by Cabrera Da Corte and his crew were interlinked. This allowed them to make cash deposits via ATM to purchase the digital currency and then promptly transfer it to wallets kept separate from the aforementioned crypto platform.
“After the cryptocurrency was transferred, the defendants made telephone calls to the US banks during which they falsely represented that the cryptocurrency purchases were unauthorized, leading the banks to reverse the transactions,” said the Department of Justice (DoJ), announcing the sentence.
The DoJ added that Cabrera Da Corte has also been ordered to pay restitution and forfeitures totaling more than $4.7 million – proving that, in this case at least, crime doesn’t pay.
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