Two bags carrying over $77,000 in cash were seized by the FBI in January at the Dallas Love Field Airport. The suspects claimed the money would be used to buy bitcoin.
SMELLS FISHY — OR LIKE WEED
The FBI filed a complaint for forfeiture in federal court last week after seizing two bags carrying more than $77,000 in cash earlier this year.
A duffle bag and a leopard print backpack found their way into checked luggage in January. The owners on their way from Texas to Burbank, California. According to a supervisor for Southwest Airlines, the bags smelled like marijuana and had wads of USD “spilling out of the backpack.”
Investigators found and talked to the owners of the two bags. The man who owned the duffle claimed to be traveling to California to meet with someone about trading bitcoins while planning to return to Texas within 24 hours. The owner of the backpack also told authorities she was traveling to Burbank to trade bitcoin.
According to the complaint, the man said he’d earned the money working in the music business and the woman worked as a lash extension technician. The man stated that they had smoked marijuana a previous day, which is why the money smelled. However, according to the complaint, the bills had a “pungent and distinctive smell of fresh marijuana.”
The total added up to around $77,010 in cash. At today’s prices, the couple could have purchased around 9.33 bitcoins. However, the cash was originally seized back in January. At that time, that entire pile of cash could’ve bought only 6.12 bitcoins.
MONEY LAUNDERING CONCERNS
While no criminal charges were filed against the pair, the event raises some concerns that digital currencies could be used to bypass anti-money laundering legislation. This is a common subject brought up by people when talking about why Bitcoin is a bad thing.
Japan is one of the few countries that recognizes Bitcoin as legal tender, having passed laws that legitimized digital currency in early summer 2017. Bitcoinist reported in February 2018 that the Japanese National Police Agency stated that, since the legalization of Bitcoin, less than 0.17 percent of money laundering cases used Bitcoin or other digital currencies.
Money laundering with Bitcoin will only get more and more difficult as time goes on as well. Since Bitcoin operates as a public, auditable ledger, anyone can view transactions sent from address to address. Some companies are already working on software to track blockchain transactions and link real-world identities with certain Bitcoin addresses.
The US Government used the public ledger to indict twelve Russian intelligence officers for conspiring to influence the 2016 presidential elections.