BOSTON – A man from Fitchburg was charged by a grand jury in connection with his alleged involvement in an unlicensed money transfer business in which cash was exchanged for bitcoin for people allegedly involved in the illegal trade in counterfeit goods.

Alan Joseph, 32, was charged today with running an unlicensed money transfer company and running four money laundering cases. Joseph was initially prosecuted and arrested in February 2021.

According to indictments, Joseph was involved in at least four financial transactions between August 2020 and February 2021 in which he converted bitcoin into cash in connection with what federal law believes was illegal trade in counterfeit goods. Bitcoin is a form of virtual currency or cryptocurrency that has no physical form and is only traded electronically.

Joseph reportedly tried to promote and hide the nature of such illegal activities. For example, on August 12, 2020, Joseph converted approximately $ 12,000 in cash into Bitcoin for an undercover agent whom Joseph believed was a seller of counterfeit “Gucci” products made in China. The undercover agent also argued that its Chinese supplier required Bitcoin to purchase the product. About two months later, on October 28, 2020, Joseph reportedly converted about $ 25,000 in cash to Bitcoin for the same undercover agent. During that meeting, the undercover agent told Joseph that the money Joseph converted came from “wealthy housewives” who bought “counterfeit” items. It is also alleged that Joseph expressed an interest in buying counterfeit goods from the undercover agent.

Contrary to federal laws and regulations, Joseph did not register his money transfer business with the Treasury Department, nor did he request identification from the undercover agent during meetings.

The money laundering charge includes a prison sentence of up to 20 years, a supervised release of up to three years and a fine of $ 250,000. Charges for running an unlicensed money transfer company include a prison sentence of up to five years, a supervised release of up to three years, and a fine of $ 250,000. Sentences are passed by a federal district judge based on U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.

Acting United States Attorney, Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special envoy for the Federal Bureau of Investigation; William S. Walker, homeland security investigative special agent in Boston; Ramsey E. Covington, Assistant Special Representative for Criminal Investigation, Internal Revenue Services; and Joseph W. Cronin, US Postal Inspectorate, made the announcement. US Assistant Attorney John T. Mulcahy of Mendell’s Worcester office is pursuing the case.

The information contained in the fee documents are allegations. The accused is presumed innocent unless and until he has been found unequivocally guilty in a court of law.