Florida teen accused of conducting dark web cybercriminal operation shut down, suspects charged

TAMPA, Florida (TodayNews) — A dark web cybercriminal operation has been brought to a halt after an Orlando teenager used cryptocurrencies to steal identity and launder money.

Orlando’s Justin Wassel is accused of running a complex cybercriminal operation using cryptocurrencies to purchase packages of stolen personal information to open credit cards and purchase hundreds of thousands worth of merchandise.

The FDLE arrested Justin Vassell, Jacqueline Vassell, Shannon Vassell, Deonte Benejan, and Lawrence Dority for illegally purchasing over $350,000 worth of merchandise, including ammunition and firearm supplies. The group allegedly sold these items to Orlando pawn shops to get cash.

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“The mastermind behind this complex cyber-fraud scheme thought he could evade detection by using stolen identities and cryptocurrencies to cover up crimes,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement. “But thanks to the diligent efforts of my state’s attorneys and FDLE agents, the entire scheme was exposed and the perpetrators involved were arrested.”

The initial investigation began after the business owner suspected that Justin had stolen about $90,000. Further investigation showed that as part of his criminal scheme, he fell victim to more than 70 citizens and 10 Internet sellers.

All suspects are charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. These charges are based on 90 predicate incidents, including criminal use of identity information, money laundering, extortion and trafficking in stolen property.

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Justin faces additional charges of grand theft of $100,000 or more, extortion, and criminal use of the personal identification information of more than 30 people.

If found guilty, he could face up to 135 years in prison.

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