Bitcoin ATM Firm ‘Auscoin’ a Front for International Drug Smuggling Ring: Australian Police

Mark Emem
The Australian police have alleged that Auscoin, a purported bitcoin ATM operator, was the front for an international drug dealing ring. | Source: Shutterstock

By As bitcoin entrepreneurs who founded the fast-growing Auscoin Bitcoin ATM business in Australia, there was nothing suspicious about Steen McBeth and Sam Karagiozis leading a flashy lifestyle including driving Lamborghinis and BMW motorcycles. Australian police, however, now allege that the duo’s cryptocurrency business was just a front for an international drug-dealing operation.

The two men are now in custody facing various charges all relating to drug-smuggling operations, according to the Daily Mail. According to the Australian police, the drugs were acquired on various darknet sites and then shipped to Australia. Their customers often paid in bitcoin, per the police.

The unraveling of the drug ring started after mail packages containing cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy were intercepted by Australian Border Force at Melbourne Airport in February 2017. After eight months, the packages were traced to McBeth and an associate named Jackson Li.  They were arrested and charged with importing cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and ecstasy.

The police however only managed to link Karagiozis to the drug ring last month. He was subsequently arrested and charged with 14 offenses all tied to drug dealing.

The Fast Growth of Auscoin

McBeth and Karagiozis founded Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)-licensed Auscoin in late 2017. While the two were co-founders, Karagiozis became the face of the company in McBeth’s absence as the firm rolled out cryptocurrency ATMs across Australia.

In December 2017 Karagiozis had set a target of 1,200 ATMs across the country. The most recent update on the number of Bitcoin ATMs installed by the firm in Australia is 30.

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