Michigan man facing charges for running unlicensed bitcoin exchange in Bloomfield Twp.

By John Steckroth - Editor

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A 52-year-old Michigan man was named in a federal indictment accused of exchanging bitcoins improperly in Bloomfield Township.

Bradley Anthony Stetkiw was charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

According to the indictment, Stetkiw went by the name “SaltandPepper” on a website called LocalBitcoins and would meet customers at a Tim Hortons restaurant and sell bitcoins at a premium.

Authorities say Stetkiw bought, sold and brokered deals for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoins while failing to comply with the money transmitting business registration requirements set forth in Title 31, United States Code, Section 5330.

Undercover agents allegedly bought over $55 thousand worth of Bitcoin from Stetkiw over the course of six meetings. Authorities said Stetkiw also brokered a deal with an out-of-state seller.

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not tied to a bank or government and allows users to spend money anonymously. The coins are created by users who “mine” them by lending computing power to verifying other users’ transactions. They receive bitcoins in exchange.

The coins also can be bought and sold on exchanges with U.S. dollars and other currencies. Their value has fluctuated over time. 

Because the currency isn’t formally regulated, its legality is a bit fuzzy. The currency has also drawn the ire of many in law enforcement and cybersecurity because it’s difficult to trace, making it a currency of choice for hackers behind ransomware attacks. But in September, New York state regulators approved their first license for a company dealing in bitcoin.

 

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