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Man Gets Year in Prison After $200K Bitcoin Scam in Montana

James Matthew Thomas was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering

MISSOULA — A judge sentenced a Michigan man to one year in prison after he scammed two Montana men out of more than $200,000.

James Matthew Thomas of Midland, Michigan, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering after accepting a plea deal in September, The Missoulian reported Wednesday.

Thomas, 35, was originally charged in June with 19 counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering, prosecutors said.

Thomas solicited funds from two Missoula men he met over LinkedIn in 2018 for investments into Bitcoin and issued them a quick return to obtain more investment funding, prosecutors said.

FBI agents discovered Thomas had transferred some of the funds to his personal account and used the investments to purchase a vehicle in New Jersey, investigators said.

Federal public defender Anthony Gallagher sought probation for his client at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, arguing Thomas’ business acumen could be best used to begin the $208,000 restitution payments.

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that can be traded online anonymously, and the value of a unit such as Bitcoin can increase or decrease as investors buy in or cash out.