Two young brothers from Surrey, British Columbia, have plead guilty to defrauding a 63-year-old Oregon woman out of bitcoins worth $140 000 USD at the time and ~$162 ooo at current prices.
The Oregonian reports that Jagroop Singh Khatkar, 24, and Karanjit Singh Khatkhar, 23, plead guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon in a federal court in Portland on Monday.
A July press release from the Oregon Department of Justice states that Karanjit Singh Khatkhar was arrested July 18th at the McCarran International Airport while en route to Las Vegas. His brother was still at large in Canada at that time.
The Oregonian writes that prosecutors, “told the court that Karanjit Singh Khatkar…urged his older brother to stay out of the United States to avoid arrest.”
The outlet also reports that Jagroop Singh Khatkar eventually surrendered to U.S. authorities in order to take advantage of a negotiated plea agreement.
After the plea hearing, the older brother was released so he could continue taking college classes.
The younger brother, who reportedly lost his job at engineering and construction firm Fluor Corporation about a month after he was arrested, will remain in custody.
If Jagroop Singh Khatkar absconds, the outlet says, the plea agreement will be voided and he will be convicted in absentia.
The brothers admitted that they used a Twitter account, “@HitBTCAssist,” to impersonate customer service at HitBTC, a Hong Kong-based crypto trading platform.
According to the Oregon Department of Justice, from October 2017 until August 2018, the brothers used the account to trick respondents into routing their cryptocurrencies to accounts controlled by them on the Kraken cryptocurrency exchange.
The unnamed victim reportedly sought assistance at the fake twitter account, where the young men told her to provide her email address.
The victim’s email and HitBTC account Information were then used to take control of her HitBTC account and drain the funds to Kraken.
The victim reportedly attended the brothers’ plea hearing and said, “I feel sorry for them. I have a son that’s 27. I hope they can turn their smarts into something more beneficial.”
She may get some of her money back. The culprits have reportedly wrote a check for $142,349, which was, “put toward restitution for the victim.”
As well, “Law enforcement already seized about $6,000 in U.S currency and $230 in Canadian currency from the brothers, according to prosecutors.”