Most cryptocurrency enthusiasts remember the Mintpal exchange. It was the world’s largest altcoin trading platform until October of 2014, when the company suddenly disappeared. The company claimed they were “hacked”, but many people immediately suspected this was an exit scam by Ryan Kennedy. After many years of trying to bring him to justice, Kennedy has been officially charged with money laundering and fraud. The question remains whether or not the Mintpal victims will ever see their money again.
Ryan Kennedy Finally Gets Charged
The cryptocurrency world received a rather nasty surprise in October of 2014, as the popular Mintpal exchange was shut down during that month. Thousands of cryptocurrency users saw their virtual wealth disappear into thin air, and hardly any of the money has been recovered. The main culprit being Ryan Kennedy. After MintPal disappeared, Kennedy may have stolen over 3,700 Bitcoins from his customers.
The history of MintPal is peppered with scandals and setbacks. The company had already lost thousands of coins in a “hack” earlier that year. It took several months to successfully relaunch the trading platform. Behind the scenes, Ryan Kennedy bought a 35% stake in Mintpal through his Moolah company. This deal also saw Moolah take full control of the exchange’s day-to-day operations. It was a red flag for some users, but many people ignored it.
Once the platform opened its doors again in October, it only took a week before it was shut down again. Moolah declared bankruptcy – which in hind sight is not surprising – and all of Mintpal’s bitcoins were stolen by a “hacker.” We know now that “hacker” was Ryan Kennedy, who then went by the alias Alex Green. Further investigation uncovered that Kennedy was selling the stolen currency through the LocalBitcoins platform.
Luckily, it did not take long for Ryan Kennedy to get arrested by the UK police. He and his “partner” Chelsea Hopkins were in custody by early 2015. Many assumed the whole incident would be rectified and affected users would get their money back. Unfortunately, that never happened and no developments about this case emerged until late last week. People had almost forgotten about the whole Mintpal debacle.
According to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Ryan Kennedy has now been officially charged with fraud and money laundering. Kennedy is scheduled to appear at Bristol Magistrates Court on July 5th. It will be interesting to see how this court case will play out. It took the Economic Crime Team a total of three years to build up a case and collect solid evidence of Kennedy’s money laundering activities. Kennedy’s stolen Bitcoins were worth over 1 million GBP, and propped up his lavish lifestyle.
This case is an example of how conducting criminal activity with Bitcoin will ultimately lead to one’s arrest. Bitcoin does not facilitate or encourage criminal activity any more than cash or banks do. Ryan Kennedy will finally be brought to justice, which is the silver lining in this horrible story in Bitcoin’s young history. Whether or not any of his victims will be reimbursed, remains to be seen. It is very likely Kennedy has spent most – if not all – of the stolen funds.