Home Law Bitcoin-funded fake ID operation busted in Toledo

Bitcoin-funded fake ID operation busted in Toledo

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Authorities seized $4.7 million worth of Bitcoin from the operation, which is reported to have operated through Reddit and The Silk Road.

Four Ohio residents have been charged and three arrests have been made following  several years of investigation into the production of fake identification cards in the Toledo area.

Accused ringleader and 34-year-old Toledo resident Mark Simon was the first to be arrested.

Simon is currently charged with production of false identification documents, transfer of false identification documents and possession of equipment used to produce false identification documents according to a release made by the U.S. Attorney’s office from the Northern District of Ohio.

Each count carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and up to a $250,000 fine, Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Hood said.

Officials said that Simon, who is currently being held at Lucas County Jail on a $5 million bond, will likely be indicted by a federal grand jury on additional charges.

Upon executing a search warrant at Simon’s home, Toledo Police Officers seized $4.7 million in Bitcoin, an online cryptocurrency, along with $7,000 in U.S. currency, 21 gold and silver bars, more than 200 gold coins, USB storage devices, a Bitcoin receipt, printing related items and identification cards not bearing Simon’s name, according to an affidavit report filed in U.S. District Court last Tuesday.  

Authorities believe Simon ran his operation through Reddit, an online discussion forum, under the pseudonym “TedDanzigSR.”

Other users of the site allegedly knew they could purchase the fake-IDs through Simon, who discussed them in chat rooms on a regular basis. According to the U.S. Attorney’s release, the identification cards were ultimately purchased through Reddit on the dark web marketplace, The Silk Road.

Investigators first learned of the operation from a pub in Springfield, Ohio where an employee had collected fake-IDs. Agents then proceeded to contact “TedDanzigSR” through reddit and order false identification cards that they were asked to pay for with Bitcoin.

According to investigators, Simon is the supposed boss and Alberts and Kuns are co-conspirators in the “high quality” fake-ID operation.

Magistrate Judge James Knepp ordered that Simon be detained last Thursday while awaiting trial.

Two days following Simon’s arrest, Perrysburg resident Sarah Alberts was arrested under charges of conspiracy, money laundering, manufacturing fake identification cards and engaging in a pattern of corrupt criminal activity. Alberts bond has been set at $1 million by Toledo Municipal Court Judge Joseph Howe.

The third person arrested is 33-year-old Toledo resident Aaron Kuns who has been charged with conspiracy, a second degree felony. Kuns’ has been released after paying 10 percent of his $50,000 bond.

Twenty-eight-year-old Benjamin Stalets is also charged with conspiracy but has not yet been arrested, according to municipal court records.

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