Bitcoin (BTC) still has, in some ways, a reputation for some as a currency used exclusively for criminal activities. In the early years of the decentralized currency, for example, it was widely used on Silk Road, an anonymous, illegal marketplace on the dark web. At the time, Bitcoin was often chosen as a means of payment to ensure anonymity. The adoption is now in a completely different stage, but the Bitcoin news is still occasionally filled with remarkable stories related to illegal activities.
This time it’s about Danny Sahadevan, a TikTok influencer who makes videos about investing in stocks and crypto. He has used bitcoin to launder a huge wealth of COVID relief loans.
On Wednesday, Sahadevan, better known as Danny Devan on TikTok, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Maryland said in a press release that the influencer tried to defraud lenders and the US government for $1.2 billion in COVID-19 relief loans.
The influencer, who has a total of 26.4 thousand followers has on TikTok, is said to have applied for multiple COVID relief loans intended to help businesses that have been in dire straits during the pandemic.
As of March 2020, Sahadevan is alleged to have created fake tax forms and bank statements and then submitted aid loan applications. According to the authorities would make a total of $146,000 Paycheck Protection programs (PPP) and $283,900 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
He allegedly opened special bank accounts for these funds, then laundered the money by participating in various monetary transactions, including buying and selling securities and cryptocurrencies, settling personal debts, and making payments to his girlfriend.
What punishment awaits the TikTok influencer?
Sahadevan is now awaiting sentencing in Maryland. He faces a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years for wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering and a mandatory two years for aggravated identity theft.
Moreover, as part of the plea deal, Sahadevan will have to repay the total amount.