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Russ Medlin entered Indonesia on a tourist visa in 2019. Photo: AFP

US bitcoin fugitive Russ Medlin arrested on sex charges in Indonesia

  • He was arrested in Jakarta after three underage girls told police he paid them to have sex with him
  • Medlin is accused of orchestrating a ‘hi-tech Ponzi scheme’ that raised US$722 million from investors lured by fake bitcoin mining earnings
A US fugitive wanted in his home country in connection with a US$700 million cryptocurrency scam has been arrested in Jakarta on sex charges, authorities in Indonesia said on Tuesday.

Russ Albert Medlin, who entered the Southeast Asian nation on a tourist visa last year, was arrested on Monday after three minors alleged he paid to have sex with them, police said.

If convicted under Indonesia’s child protection laws, Medlin could face 15 years in prison, police said, adding that they confiscated more than US$20,000 in cash from the suspect.

Russ Medlin is presented at a police press conference in Jakarta on June 16, 2020. Photo: AFP

“After the arrest, we checked his identity,” Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus told reporters on Tuesday, adding Medlin was sought by foreign law enforcement agencies.

Another police officer said that Medlin could face extradition to the United States.

According to the Nevada State sex offender public website, a Russ Albert Medlin was listed as a “non compliant” tier-two offender – the second most serious – with a Las Vegas address.

In December, the US Justice Department said three men had been arrested in an alleged fraud that raised US$722 million from investors lured by fake bitcoin mining earnings.
Russ Medlin could face 15 years in jail under Indonesia’s child protection laws. Photo: AFP

Prosecutors in the US allege that Medlin headed the “BitClub Network”, which took money from investors in a “hi-tech Ponzi scheme”.

From April 2014 through December 2019, the group attracted unsuspecting investors using fraudulent earnings purported to come from the network’s mining pool, according to prosecutors.

It was not immediately clear if US authorities would seek Medlin’s extradition in the cryptocurrency case.

“We are still waiting for a request from the US Embassy,” Jakarta police’s special investigation director Roma Hutajulu said on Tuesday.

The US embassy did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Reuters