Crime

Florida court issues new ruling regarding unregulated cryptocurrency sales

February 2, 2019, 2:00PM EDT

Unregulated cryptocurrency sales may come under investigation by the Florida Police Department, according to the new ruling of the Third District Court of Appeals, Miami Herald reports. The court ruled that a Miami judge shouldn’t have dismissed felony charges against a website designer Michell Espinoza who had sold $1,500 worth of bitcoins in a series of unregistered transactions to an undercover detective in 2014. Espinoza stood accused of illegally transmitting and laundering the funds, and he will have to prove his innocence in court.

During his first trial, a defence expert compared tokens to “poker chips that people are willing to buy from you,” and in her ruling, Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler pointed out that Bitcoin is not yet the equivalent of money. However, the new ruling confirmed unregulated money transmission had taken place, and Espinoza “should have registered with Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation” as he had profited from selling bitcoins to an undercover Miami Beach detective by charging more than the bitcoins’ worth.

“Espinoza’s bitcoins-for-cash business requires him to register as a payment instrument seller and money transmitter,” the judge said, arguing Espinoza was marketing a business online.

The issue the authorities have with cryptocurrencies is that they allow anonymity which can be abused for nefarious reasons, such as money laundering as well as sex and drug trafficking on the dark web. This ruling will enable Florida law enforcement to investigate unregulated cryptocurrency sales.

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