Ian Freeman ordered to pay more than $3.5 million in restitution to victims and to forfeit proceeds of his bitcoin money laundering scheme


Date: Feb. 13, 2024

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

CONCORD — Ian Freeman was ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $3.5 million to 29 victims and forfeit various other assets that were seized during the investigation, U.S Attorney Jane E. Young announces.

Ian Freeman of Keene, was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Laplante to pay restitution totaling $3,502,708.69 to 29 victims of his offense. The Court also issued a preliminary order of forfeiture of various other assets that were seized during the investigation. On October 2, 2023, Ian Freeman was sentenced to 96 months in prison, 2 years of supervised release, and a fine of $40,000. Freeman was convicted by a federal jury on December 22, 2022, following a ten-day trial.

“Ian Freeman’s money laundering business caused many vulnerable people unnecessary anguish. Nothing will ever take away the pain he caused these victims, but I am grateful that the dedicated prosecution team on this case was able to make many of them financially whole,” U.S. Attorney Jane E. Young said. “It is rare for victims of romance scams and other international fraud schemes to have their money returned to them because of the anonymity that businesses like Ian Freeman’s offer fraudsters. I urge everyone to protect themselves and their older loved ones by learning the indicators of these types of scams, so that you are better prepared to prevent being victimized.”

"This court order forcing Ian Freeman to pay millions of dollars in restitution to dozens of elderly victims across the country who suffered agonizing losses is a significant step toward justice,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “While no amount of money can make up for the emotional toll Mr. Freeman’s actions have inflicted, it does ensure that he has been held both criminally and financially responsible for what he did. The FBI will never stop working to shut down fraud schemes like this one to protect older folks and help them hang on to their hard-earned money. If you’re being victimized, or know of someone who is, please reach out to the FBI – anonymously, if you like.”

Freeman laundered over ten million dollars in proceeds of romance scams and other internet frauds by exchanging U.S. dollars for bitcoin. By failing to register his business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as required by law, disabling “know your customer” features on his bitcoin kiosks, and ensuring that bitcoin customers did not tell him what they did with their bitcoin, among other things, Freeman created a business that catered to fraudsters. By charging exorbitant fees, Freeman made more than a million dollars.

Records and exhibits in the 10-day trial proved that as part of the conspiracy, Freeman and his co-conspirators opened and operated accounts at financial institutions in the names of various churches including the Shire Free Church, the Church of the Invisible Hand, the Crypto Church of New Hampshire, and the NH Peace Church. Freeman instructed bitcoin customers, who were often victims of scams, to lie to the financial institutions and describe their deposits as church donations. From 2016 to 2019, he paid no taxes, and concealed his income from the Internal Revenue Service.

The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI), Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Postal Inspection Service led the investigation. The national Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team and the Department of Justice, Tax Division, provided valuable assistance in the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Georgiana L. MacDonald, John Kennedy, and Seth R. Aframe.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.