A Wallingford man has pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges connected to a scheme to steal more than $365,000 worth of bitcoins on the dark web, according to federal officials.
Michael Richo, 35, of Wallingford, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court, according to Deirdre Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
Bitcoins are a form of electronic currency, which online marketplaces on the dark web typically accept as a payment method, and Richo was accused of taking part in an online phishing scheme to steal bitcoins from people on the dark web.
Federal officials said that by pleading guilty, Richo admitted that he posted fake links to online marketplaces on dark web forums, which directed individuals to a fake login page that looked like the real login pages for the various online marketplaces.
When people tried to log in, Richo stole usernames and passwords and then monitored the individual’s bitcoin balance at the real marketplace.
If the individual later deposited bitcoins with the real marketplace, Richo withdrew them before the individual could spend them, deposited them into his own bitcoin wallet and sold the stolen bitcoins to others in exchange for U.S. currency, federal officials said.
Federal officials said Richo had more than 10,000 stolen usernames and passwords saved on his computer. He pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 28.
Richo has agreed to forfeit various computers and electronic devices, an assortment of precious coins and metals, and up to $365,000.
Since he was arrested on Oct. 5, 2016, Richo has been released on bond with computer monitoring conditions.