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Las Vegas police say man swindled $500K in bitcoin from trader

A 23-year-old man has been charged in Las Vegas with what authorities say was a complex bitcoin scam that swindled as much as $500,000 from a novice cryptocurrency trader.

Filippos Liakounakos was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on Monday on charges of theft of more than $100,000, using another person’s identity to cause a financial loss and unlawful felony act involving electronic mail or transmission of computer data.

A place of residence is not listed in police records for Liakounakos, but an arrest warrant in the case notes that police identified him with the help of a Florida identification card.

A Las Vegas police detective wrote in a heavily redacted arrest warrant for Liakounakos that the victim in the case, whose name was blacked out by police, notified the Internet Crime Complaint Center in November 2020 that he was the victim of a bitcoin scam.

The victim told police he was approached by a business associate he knew on the encrypted mobile chat app Telegram and that the two agreed to a bitcoin transaction.

The victim then transferred $500,000 in bitcoin, which included a $50,000 seller’s fee, to his business associate in exchange for money.

But the next day, when he contacted the business associate about the transaction, the individual had no idea what the victim was talking about, and the victim learned that he had sent the money to an imposter posing as the business associate.

“I reviewed the transaction on the public blockchain and observed the BTC (bitcoin) being moved rapidly in what is commonly known as ‘peeling’ to obfuscate where the BTC was going,” a detective wrote in the warrant.

In December, the victim contacted police to say that the imposter had contacted him again via Telegram as part of a proposed $999,900 bitcoin transaction. The victim was able to obtain an email from the imposter and this, in turn, allowed police to serve a variety of search warrants that ultimately led detectives to issue the warrant for Liakounakos.

Liakounakos is expected to appear in Las Vegas Justice Court on Wednesday. Online court records do not list an attorney for the man.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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