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Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are often associated with various criminal activities, such as fraud and theft. But there exists another less-reported crime, taking place in the mining phase. Bitcoin mining requires a significant source of power, and opportunistic miners have been stealing power to run their mining operations, profiting vast sums of money with relatively little overhead.

What is Crypto-Mining?

Cryptocurrency mining occurs when a person uses their computer to solve an immensely complex math problem. Put simply, miners are searching for unique codes that will allow them to create new currency. This requires a lot of computer processing, which in turn requires significant energy.

How Bitcoin Miners are Stealing Power

Bitcoin mining power theft is usually done through two-methods.

The first method is to hijack someone else’s CPU, by inserting a script in their computer that takes control of the system’s main functions. Then, the hijacker can mine Bitcoin using the victim’s computer. Victims are often unaware this is taking place, and merely notice their computer fans turning on and CPU slowing. This hijacking can take place by simply visiting the wrong website. As the user browses the website, the site’s code runs Bitcoin mining code in the background. This type of mining theft operation often takes place at great scale, across hundreds of thousands of computers.

The second method is to simply hardwire a bitcoin mining computer into a power source which you do not pay for or have authority to utilize. While this is a more difficult method to scale, many criminals utilize this method, resulting in large amount of electricity stolen each year. In Malaysia, electricity theft for mining activity caused frequent power outages.

What is the United States Government Doing About it?

While both of the above Bitcoin mining schemes are illegal under existing US law, actually putting a stop to the activity is no easy task. Cryptocurrency miners will often band together, making them resilient to takedown operations. One method that seemingly had some mitigating effect was cryptocurrency authorities altering algorithms relating to mining activity, requiring illegal miners to alter their malware.

Electricity theft is a serious crime, with criminal and civil consequences. Victims stand to lose vast sums of money. Cryptocurrency mining related electricity theft even has negative consequences

The United States government has taken the traditional approach to combatting this issue: investigating and arresting select individuals. If you are one of the unlucky few individuals arrested because of a cryptocurrency mining-related electricity theft, prosecutors are likely interested in making an example out of your case. Contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in trial work to best protect your rights.

It’s no secret that the Miami real estate boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s was largely funded by cocaine smuggling criminals laundering their cash. But ever since, Miami and the rest of South Florida have been the ideal location to hide money in expensive real estate. This is a problem in any big city, but given the dynamic nature of an international-hub like Miami, laundered money is a particular problem.

There are plenty of high-profile cases pointing to the prevalence of money laundering in Miami real estate. The federal government seized a $5 million suite in the Porsche Design tower, a part of a greater money-laundering scheme worth over $1 billion. A former executive in Ecuador’s national oil company was sentenced to four years in prison after laundering money through six South Florida properties. In 2016, the notorious “Panama Papers” confirmed the Miami real estate market was plagued with laundered money.

How Exactly does Money Laundering in Real Estate Work?

Generally, criminals with illegal money use it to buy high-dollar real estate through anonymous shell companies. The shell companies, commonly headquartered in overseas countries with little regulation, are used to hide the identity of those involved. The Miami real estate market has relatively little oversight to combat such illicit behavior.

A lack of oversight coupled with high property prices creates the perfect environment for criminals looking to launder money in a tropical paradise. However, federal regulators are increasingly attempting to crack down on laundered money in real estate. Since 2016, prosecutions in this field have been on the rise. Aggressive federal investigations have made it harder for those looking to hide their money in Miami. Those facing money laundering charges in South Florida should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in money laundering matters.

The world of high-dollar art and antiques is associated with extraordinary prices paid in cash. For racketeers looking to launder money, this offers an ideal method to launder money. With art sales commonly topping $10 million, it’s hard to imagine a better industry to launder money.

Those charged with money laundering stemming from art sales face serious charges, and should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to ensure their case receives the best results.

How do Criminals Launder Money in Artwork?

Some cases of money laundering in the art world are relatively simple to understand. Suppose a money launderer needs to launder $1 million dollars. They use that $1 million to buy a painting at auction, then anonymously resell the painting to a new buyer. After the resale, the money launderer has made income from a totally legitimate business dealing.

Other times, money laundering can be more complicated. First, consider the famous case of Jean Michel Basquiat’s Hannibal painting, worth about $8 million. Together, a convicted Brazilian money launderer and former banker attempted to smuggle the painting from Brazil to the United States, via the Netherlands. The pair fabricated shipping invoices, claiming the shipment, containing the multi-million-dollar painting, was worth $100. The painting was most likely on its way to the United States for sale, and the criminal duo was convicted of money laundering.

Next, consider terrorist entities such as ISIS. One of ISIS’s main sources of revenue is the sale of stolen artifacts. When artifacts are found, ISIS either steals them or buys them from the owner at a significantly discounted price. Through a series of middlemen, the artifacts make their way through several different countries on their way to the west. Eventually, the goods are stored in European warehouses where they await a buyer. The lack of documentation and any viable paper-trail mean this is an ideal system for criminal enterprises to launder money.

Regulating the Art Market

With pundits harshly critiquing the ease with which money is laundered in the art industry, lawmakers across the globe have been scrambling to introduce legislation to mitigate the practice. In Europe, the Anti-Money Laundering Directives (AMDL) were introduced to combat criminal practices in the art industry. The AMDL requires all transactions with a value equal to or over EUR 10,000 to be reported and verified.

In the United States, dealers of precious metals and jewelry are required to file Suspicious Activity Reports and comply with other Anti-Money Laundering obligations. Interestingly and somewhat inexplicably, art dealers are not bound by these same regulations. Outside of Europe, most of the world has little to no regulations combatting money laundering in the art industry. The introduction of stricter regulations is necessary to stifle money laundering in the art industry.

Attorney Ralph Behr and the Federal Sentencing Alliance have partnered with Interrogating Justice to demand Attorney General Merrick Garland order the Bureau of Prisons start awarding First Step Act time credits to incarcerated Americans who are entitled to them.

President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act in 2018, and shortly after, Congress authorized the BOP to begin implementing recidivism reduction programs and activities to incarcerated Americans. The Act further authorized the BOP to award time credits immediately. This meant that incarcerated citizens had the opportunity to begin earning time off their sentence for participating in various transitional justice programs.

Despite the BOP’s authority to award First Step Act time credits, it has chosen not to.

Since the Act’s implementation in 2018, the BOP has refused to act. The BOP has asserted they will not award any First Step Act time credits until January 15, 2022. For those incarcerated, this means they are able to earn enough time credits to be released but are stuck in prison until the BOP’s arbitrarily set Jan. 15, 2022 deadline. The BOP’s actions are capricious and unpredictable and represent a failure of the American incarceration system.

To make matters worse, federal courts have been largely complacent in allowing the BOP to take this position. Courts have held they lack jurisdiction until the First Step Act’s “phase-in” period has ended. But the United States Supreme Court has long held that incarcerated Americans have a constitutionally protected liberty interest in time credits. This means federal courts could exercise jurisdiction over lawsuits challenging the BOP’s implementation of the First Step Act.

Support Attorney Ralph Behr, the Federal Sentencing Alliance, and Interrogating Justice

Attorney Ralph Behr, the Federal Sentencing Alliance, and Interrogating Justice call upon Attorney General Merrick Garland to order the BOP to begin honoring First Step Act good time credits immediately. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and American citizens can’t afford to wait until the BOP’s January 15, 2022 deadline.

Sign the petition to support Interrogating Justice, the Federal Sentencing Alliance, and Attorney Ralph Behr in their stand.

Late last week the People’s Bank of China stated in a press release, “virtual currency-related business activities are illegal financial activities.” The Bank claimed that such virtual currencies endanger “the safety of people’s assets.” This means that overnight, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency markets forced millions of users to sell their digital currencies. In the wake of this announcement, the price of Bitcoin fell by over $2,000.

This is only the most recent move in what has been a series of regulations against Bitcoin and other digital currencies in China. The Chinese government sees cryptocurrency as an unsafe and vulnerable investment, as well as an easy way for criminals to launder their illegal earnings. Although crypto-trading has been illegal in China since 2019, trading was made possible using foreign exchange outlets.

But this year, China has been stamping down on cryptocurrency trading, tightening regulations and enforcing stricter compliance. In late May, the Chinese government informed traders that they would no longer be entitled to the traditional legal metrics of protection if they continued to trade. The following month, the government ordered all financial institutions to block all transactions involving cryptocurrencies.

Last week’s announcement is the harshest restriction yet, clearly evidencing the Chinese government’s intent to stamp out all crypto trading. activity within the country’s borders. The statement informed citizens that all digital trading was a crime, and that the State would soon begin prosecuting those in violation. Further, all foreign exchange outlets making trading possible to China are also in violation of Chinese law.

How Does this Affect U.S. Crypto Traders?

All US investors should hear this news and be concerned primarily with one thing: volatility. Last week, Bitcoin fell 4% within a 24-hour period, following the press release, while Ether fell over 6% in the same period. One of the main critiques of cryptocurrencies surrounds their volatility. Experts already warn users to exercise caution when trading cryptocurrency, due to the volatile nature of the transaction.

But there is a larger, overarching concern for US-based investors. If the US follows in China’s path and strikes down on cryptocurrency investing, trading will be turned on its head. The US government has been cracking down on cryptocurrencies more and more. The US government has begun viewing digital currencies as a burden to their regulation of currency management.

Cryptocurrency experts are warning of an incoming influx of regulations over the industry in the coming years. Even US lawmakers have chimed in on the debate. The Securities and Exchange Commission chairman stated that the SEC is working diligently to create new regulations for cryptocurrencies.

For US-based cryptocurrency investors, traders, and businesses, this means that the very existence of digital trading is shrouded by a legal uncertainty, which may not clear anytime soon. This means continued turbulence for Bitcoin and other digital currencies, until the storm settles.

Cryptocurrency has grown in popularity amongst investors, news outlets, and mainstream culture in recent years. Bitcoin, the first and most popular cryptocurrency reached a total market cap of over $1 trillion in early 2021.

Investors who held onto their Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies throughout the crypto boom saw increases to their net worth, and now boast large capital gains profits. Now, the question amongst many investors is how to pay taxes on their earnings. In particular, what if you convert your cryptocurrency into physical dollars, goods, or services?

For federal tax purposes, the IRS considers cryptocurrency to be “property.” With this classification, cryptocurrencies are treated as a capital asset. This means you pay cryptocurrency taxes as if you sold some sort of capital. For example, when you sell your house and have to pay taxes, the IRS considers the difference between the original purchase price of the house and the net sales proceeds.

When paying taxes on cryptocurrencies, the calculation is similar. Begin by considering the difference between the original purchase price and the sales price. But there is an important next step, taxes owed on cryptocurrencies are largely dependent on the length of time the investment was held. Depending on the length of time you held your cryptocurrency, your gains will be considered either short or long term, effecting the amount of taxes owed.

(1) “Short-Term” Capital Gains or Losses – If cryptocurrencies are bought and sold within a 365-day window, you are taxed under the short-term bracket. Short-term gains are taxed at the same rate as your typical income, including wages, salaries, and commissions. This means that depending on your total net income, you may owe anywhere from 10% to 37% of your total income.

(2) “Long-Term” Capital Gains or Losses – If cryptocurrencies are bought and sold after a year, the difference between the purchase and sales price is taxed based on long-term tax rates. In general, you will pay less taxes on a long-term gains than short-term. As of 2021, there are three tax brackets for long-term gains, which you fall in is dependent on your total net income: 0%, 15%, or 20%.

How to Reduce Cryptocurrency Taxes

Considering the above ways in which cryptocurrencies are taxed, there are a few strategies to mitigate the amount you may owe.

            First, consider holding your cryptocurrency for over a year, so short-term gains are turned into long-term gains. It may be tempting to sell quickly, but take the potential tax differences into account before deciding to let go of your currency.

            Second, consider selling your cryptocurrencies during a year when you made less than usual. Paying during low-income years ensures you stay in the lowest possible tax bracket.

Finally, consider moving to a state without income tax. While this post has focused predominantly on federal income tax, states also have an interest in your investment earnings. Luckily, select states offer no income tax or significantly lower income tax levels, including Florida, Wyoming, and Delaware.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency owners often find themselves in the precarious position of not knowing how to transfer their cryptocurrency into their bank account. Cryptocurrencies offer an exciting new financial frontier and investment opportunity, but what good is investment if you can’t withdraw your profits?

You cannot deposit their cryptocurrency directly into your bank account, yet. . . Instead, users will have to convert their cryptocurrency into dollars, then deposit the currency into their account. How this process is done depends on the platform you hold your cryptocurrency on.


Coinbase not only makes it easy to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, the platform makes transferring cryptocurrency into your bank account an ease. When you start using Coinbase, you can link your bank account. When you want to turn your cryptocurrency into dollars, sell the cryptocurrency for cash, then deposit the cash into your bank account. Usually, Coinbase transfers the money into your bank account within a couple of days.


Bitstamp, unlike Coinbase, does not allow users to link their bank account. Instead, users enter their bank account information every time they want to make a transaction. Bitcoin owners can use the platform to convert their cryptocurrency into cash, then they can enter their bank account information to deposit their earnings.

What to Remember When Converting Cryptocurrencies into Cash

Hidden Fees

Customers need to be aware of hidden fees. Many banks charge a fee for incoming wire transfers. Cryptocurrency platforms often encourage wire transfers for large money transfers. Consult with your bank to understand any potential transfer fees you may incur. Almost all cryptocurrency platforms charge fees for each transfer, typically ranging from $2 to $50. Transfer fees have become a typical part of trading cryptocurrencies.


Once cryptocurrency traders hit a payday, they often forget that any profit made is taxable income. In the United States, cryptocurrency profits are taxed as capital gains. How much you pay in taxes is dependent on the tax bracket you fall in with your regular income. If you are located outside of the United States, or are unsure of how cryptocurrencies are taxed, contact a local tax professional to understand your situation.


Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offer a unique investing opportunity for users. It is currently impossible to deposit cryptocurrency directly into your bank account, so users will instead have to rely on cryptocurrency trading platforms to collect their earnings. While banks may someday offer the option for cryptocurrency direct deposit, a classic transfer will have to do for now. Cryptocurrency users should be aware of any taxes and hidden fees associated with trading.

Since 2014, China has been constructing its own national digital currency, a project pioneering the world community’s path into the digital era. The People’s Bank of China is charged with the project, with the set goal of ultimately replacing circulating physical currency with its digital counterpart.

Trials of the cryptocurrency are currently underway throughout China, and usage is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years.

What is the new Chinese Currency?

The digital yuan shares some similarities to traditional cryptocurrencies but contrasts starkly according to key metrics. Like traditional cryptocurrencies, the digital yuan operates entirely online, off the user’s cellphone or computer. The digital currency acts similarly to its physical counterpart in terms of spending, the only difference being the lack of a physical wallet.

At this point, it’s not entirely clear how users will earn, hold, or spend the digital currency once it is enacted nationwide. The most popular forms of digital payment in China are Alipay and WeChat Pay, which utilize QR codes to connect merchants and users financially. Chinese banking executives have reported that the currency will be similar in form to these traditional and successful payment methods.

Will the Digital Yuan Compete with Traditional Cryptocurrencies?

No. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies utilized for investing and holding assets operate on blockchain technologies with anonymity. The digital yuan will operate on traditional banking technology, not offering users much investment opportunity or anonymity.

The similarities end there, traditional cryptocurrencies are often decentralized, meaning they are not controlled by any one government or banking entity. The digital yuan on the other hand is controlled entirely by the Chinese government.

Why is the Digital Yuan being introduced?

The Chinese government has been increasingly concerned with traditional economic methods. They are looking to seize more economic control, cut storage and producing costs, and launch their country into the digital world. With a digital currency, the Chinese government would more easily stamp out criminal activities. Traditionally, online payment methods have been controlled by private entities, the Chinese government is looking to even the playing field by creating a nationalized platform that increases the efficiency of payments.

International Currency

China has long been pushing for a currency to connect the world, and some pundits have opined that the digital yuan is a step towards doing that. Chinese banking officials claim this is not the case, claiming the immediate focus is on domestic currency exchange.

This is not to say the Chinese government hasn’t been looking into creating a cross-border currency. Chinese bankers joined forces with central banks in Thailand, the UAE, and Hong Kong last month to implore the possibility of creating an international payment exchange.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed an executive order in July of 2021, banning vaccine passports. A vaccine passport occurs when a business or other entity requires their patrons and customers to present proof of vaccination. Since the bill was passed in July, enforcement has been sparse, and businesses caught requiring vaccine passports faced little tangible consequence.

Recently, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature has approved and passed the law signed by Governor DeSantis earlier this year. This allows the Florida Department of Health to begin harsher enforcement of the vaccine passport ban. According to the Department of Health, any Florida business found requiring proof of vaccination from patrons, customers, or any other member of the public will face a $5,000 fine. Once the fine is issued, businesses will have a brief thirty-day period to appeal before payment is due.

Critics to this bill make three main arguments. First, they argue the law violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Pundits argue the state has no authority to restrict a business or individual’s expression. Second, they argue vaccine passports violate the very same free market principles that Governor DeSantis champions. Finally, they argue the ban goes against the greater health interests of the public.

Despite heavy criticism, Governor DeSantis argues he is making decisions based on empirical evidence, upholding individual rights principles. DeSantis stands by the notion that this to be a legitimate use of state executive power.

Florida Federal Courts Create a Contentious Legal Divide

In August 2021, a federal judge temporarily sided with Norwegian Cruise Lines, ruling that Florida’s law banning vaccine passports was unconstitutional on free speech grounds. The ruling held that the First Amendment prohibits the enactment of laws abridging freedom of speech, and that vaccine passports fell squarely into constitutionally protected waters. In response, Governor DeSantis stated he would appeal the ruling.

What Now?

Beginning September 16, 2021, the Florida Department of Health will begin enforcing the ban on vaccine passports. After that date, Florida businesses will face $5,000 in fines for requiring the public to present a vaccine passport. The law allows the Department of Health to begin collecting payments immediately, and whether the courts will find the law unconstitutional is yet to be decided.

The Federal Sentencing Alliance and Attorney Ralph S. Behr have co-authored “Prison Term Reduction Recidivism Reduction Programs and Inmate Early Release Under the First Step Act,” a book analyzing and critiquing the First Step Act. The book is the most comprehensive analysis of the First Step Act time credits system published to date. Attorneys will find this publication to be a resourceful utility when dealing with time credit disputes.

The authors analyze the numerous pitfalls of the act, ranging from individualized time credit disputes to systematic claims of undermining. Since the act’s inception in 2018, hundreds of prisoners, attorneys, and lawmakers have claimed of the shortfalls, disparities, and discrepancies apparent in the system created by the act.

For example, in 2019 Illinois State Senator Dick Durbin accused the Bureau of Prisons of undermining the First Step Act by intentionally resisting retroactive sentencing relief. According to Senator Durbin, of the 31,000 inmates who requested compassionate release during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Prisons approved a mere 36.

Numerous claims have been made regarding the ineffective nature of the First Step Act. Pundits assert the Bureau of Prisons has shortened the date spans for prisoner release, arbitrarily shortened the timing of awards, and failed to make a timely implementation of earned time credits. The result: the Department of Justice and Bureau of prisons have joined forces to arbitrarily implement policies that squander any chance of success under the First Step Act.

In their book, Attorney Ralph Behr and the Federal Sentencing Alliance examine the failures of the First Step Act. This book is the premier guide for prisoners, prisoner’s families, and prisoner’s attorneys who are facing time credit disputes.

The Authors

Attorney Behr is a board certified criminal trial attorney located in South Florida. He practices in Florida and New York state and federal courts. His practices concentrates on major white collar crimes, major felonies, drug trafficking, and tax fraud. Attorney Behr is passionate about criminal defense and prisoner’s rights.

The Federal Sentencing Alliance is a national consortium of federal sentencing mitigation experts. The Federal Sentencing Alliance is an expert team of attorneys specializing in all aspects of federal sentencing mitigation, offering full investigative services nationwide at all stages of prosecution. The Federal Sentencing Alliance has several publications relating to key provisions of the First Step Act of 2018 available at

The Federal Sentencing Alliance is prepared to assist attorneys in sentencing mitigation.

Ralph S. Behr

General Counsel, Federal Sentencing Alliance.

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