US convicts crypto-robbing gang leader who kidnapped victims before draining their accounts

Said to have zip tied elderly crypto investors, held them at gunpoint, and threatened to kill them

The US has convicted the 24-year-old leader of an international robbery crew that kidnapped and terrorized wealthy victims during home invasions that were carried out to steal cryptocurrency tokens.

The court heard that Remy St Felix, of West Palm Beach, led the gang between September 2022 and July 2023, during which time and across several extremely violent home invasions they stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crypto from victims.

According to evidence presented at trial, on one occasion in April 2023, St Felix and one other crew member assaulted, restrained with zip-ties, and held an elderly husband and wife at gunpoint, threatening additional violence to them, while other members remotely drained their cryptocurrency wallet of more than $150,000.

The brutal attack was carried out on Wells Street in Durham, North Carolina, at around 0900 local time, the complaint claims. St Felix and another crew member were said to have dressed as construction workers, adorned with reflective vests and khaki trousers, claiming to be inspecting pipes for damage.

After patrolling the perimeter of the house, with the husband and wife's permission, they again knocked on their door, barged their way into the home and past the wife, who was dragged by the legs into the bathroom where she was restrained by St Felix's masked accomplice, according to the filing. 

The husband ran to her rescue but was also overpowered by St Felix, zip-tied, and forced to log into the home iMac to install AnyDesk's remote access software, the document claims. 

Over the next 45 minutes, St Felix spoke to a third crew member over speakerphone who was tasked with draining $156,853 worth of cryptocurrency from the husband's Coinbase account over three transactions. The criminals attempted a fourth transaction, which was blocked by Coinbase.

St Felix has been convicted by the jury of nine counts including conspiracy, kidnapping, Hobbs Act robbery, wire fraud, and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence.

According to the original complaint [PDF], listening in on the call while this traumatizing ordeal was unraveling, the husband realized that the third crew member, participating remotely and described as tech-savvy, knew information about the Coinbase account before being told by St Felix, suggesting a prior compromise may have taken place, perhaps via an email account breach.

This was just one of many home invasions this gang carried out across North Carolina, New York, Florida, and Texas, and if this single case specifically is anything to go on, they were as violent as they come. 

The complaint also alleged that St Felix threatened to cut off the husband's toes and genitals, shoot him, and rape his wife if they didn't grant the intruders access to his Coinbase account. 

"St Felix and his co-conspirators targeted victims across the United States for brutal home invasions, kidnappings, and robberies in order to steal cryptocurrency," said principal deputy assistant attorney general Nicole M Argentieri, head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. 

"Although the members of this violent conspiracy tried to cover their tracks through encrypted communication and anonymous financial transactions, they were not beyond the reach of our dedicated investigators and prosecutors. 

"The jury's verdict today – the latest in more than a dozen convictions in this case – should serve as yet another reminder that the Criminal Division and its partners are committed to bringing violent offenders to justice, no matter how technically sophisticated their crimes may be."

The criminals tried to launder the stolen funds through privacy-enhanced crypto tokes such as Monero, as well as by using platforms that don't conduct Know Your Customer anti-money laundering checks. 

The Feds say St Felix was arrested in July 2023 while on his way to carry out another home invasion, this time in New York. 

He's due to be sentenced on September 11 and faces a minimum prison term of seven years and a maximum punishment of life in prison. ®

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