S&P Solutions Accused of Money Laundering Through Crypto ATMs
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, in cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), filed charges against S&P Solutions and three of its employees for operating crypto ATMs without a proper license, conspiring to launder money, and engaging in corrupt activities.
A large-scale investigation involved 28 specialized agencies, including departments of state police and USAO, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Border Patrol. In addition, it involved the USSS Cyber Fraud and Money Laundering Task Force.
The indictment targets S&P Solutions, which operates under the name Bitcoin of America (BOA), as well as its key employees:
- Sonny Meraban, 45, the founder and owner of the business;
- Reza Meraban, 75, manager and father of Sonny Meraban;
- William Suriano, 69, manager and attorney.
Until February 2023, the defendants illegally owned and operated crypto ATMs in northeastern Ohio. They didn't have an official money transfer license and deliberately deceived local regulators to avoid detection.
The investigation revealed that Bitcoin of America (S&P Solutions) failed to implement consumer protection and anti-money laundering measures. Scammers actively used crypto ATMs to receive funds from their victims, with Bitcoin of America collecting a 20% commission on each transaction, even after notification of the fraud.
On March 1, 2023, USSS representatives and Ohio investigators seized 52 crypto ATMs belonging to Bitcoin of America (S&P Solutions) - 41 in Cuyahoga County and 11 in Lorain County. Sonny Meraban in Florida and Reza Meraban in Illinois were arrested after subsequent searches of their homes. Riverside police have also arrested William Suriano, the third suspect.
Bitcoin of America (S&P Solutions) employees are charged for:
- Engaging in corrupt activities;
- Violating licensing requirements and forging documents;
- Money laundering;
- Receiving stolen property;
- Possession of crime instruments;
- Violating tax laws.
Currently, the investigation is ongoing.
Crypto ATMs have become a high-priority focus for regulators in many countries. They are considered a vital element in schemes involving illegal money laundering associated with drugs, weapons, and even human trafficking. Therefore, financial regulators insist that сrypto ATM operators register and obtain an official license.