Charlie Shrem is an American entrepreneur who was, and still is, at the epicenter of the digital currency phenomenon known as Bitcoin. Charlie started a company called BitInstant, a company that charged a fee for users to purchase and make purchases with Bitcoins at over 700,000 locations. BitInstant soon caught the attention of Winklevoss Capital and by 2013 the company was processing over 30% of all Bitcoin transactions. While Charlie was blazing trails with Bitcoin and creating markets in which the virtual currency could transact, the U.S. government was growing concerned over the secrecy of both the currency and these transactions.
On January 26, 2014, upon returning to New York from an e-commerce convention in Amsterdam, Charlie was arrested at JFK Airport in New York. Prosecutors charged that Charlie and Robert Faiella for conspiring to launder $1 million worth of Bitcoins to help users of the Silk Road marketplace make anonymous illegal purchases. He was also charged with failing to report suspicious banking activity and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. He would eventually plead guilty and in December 2014 he was sentenced to two years in prison for aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed money-transmitting business related the on-line market place called Silk Road. Silk Road’s founder Ross Ulbricht, would be found guilty at trial and sentenced to LIFE in prison. In a strange twist, federal agents who worked on the investigation would receive prison time for the stealing BitCoins from Silk Road.
Charlie completed a two year prison term as a result of his guilty plea and is now actively involved in new business startups. He is a compelling and brilliant speaker who talks about his own cautionary tale as well as:
- Bitcoin and On-line Currency / Markets
- Non-Profit Causes
He was featured in a the book Digital Gold- Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money and the documentary film The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin. GQ Magazine did a profile story on Charlie in June 2014 entitled, Sex Drugs and Toaster: My Life On Bitcoin. It totally captures the personality and intellect of Charlie.