Miami, Florida – In one of the largest cryptocurrency forfeiture actions ever brought by the United States, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida successfully confiscated approximately $34 million worth of cryptocurrency linked to illegal activity on the Dark Web.
According to the U.S. government’s civil forfeiture complaint, law enforcement officers identified a South Florida resident who made millions using an online pseudonym to make more than 100,000 sales of illicit items and hacking into online account information on many of the world’s largest Dark Web marketplaces. For example, the South Florida resident sold hacked online account information for popular services such as HBO, Netflix, and Uber, among others, and accessed the Dark Web using the TOR (The Onion Router) network. . The Onion Router network is a special network of computers distributed around the world designed to anonymize a user’s Internet traffic by hiding the computers’ Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
As detailed in the complaint, file analyzes revealed that the South Florida resident used so-called “tumblers” and illegal Dark Web money transfer services to launder one cryptocurrency for another. – a technique called “chain hopping” – in violation of federal money laundering laws. . A tumbler is a Dark Web mixing service that aggregates multiple cryptocurrency transactions. Then the cup distributes the cryptocurrency to a designated cryptocurrency wallet at random times and in random increments. The goal is to hide the original source of funds. Law enforcement officers have seized various cryptocurrency wallets associated with illegal conduct on the Dark Web.
This forfeiture action is the result of Operation TORnado, a joint investigation that stems from the ongoing efforts of the OECDTF, a partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The primary mission of the OECDTF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten citizens of the United States using an attorney, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach to combating transnational organized crime. The OECDTF program facilitates complex joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Matthew D. Line, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office; George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami; Deanne L. Reuter, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Miami; Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge, Miami Division, US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), made the announcement.
IRS-CI, FBI, DEA, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) investigated the case.
Asset Forfeiture Division Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitch Hyman and Deputy Chiefs Nicole Grosnoff and Nalina Sombuntham continued this asset forfeiture action. Monique Botero, head of the International Money Laundering and Narcotics Section of the Southern District of Florida, is the lead prosecutor for Operation TORnado.
Court documents and related information can be found on the District Court for the Southern District of Florida website at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or http://pacer.flsd.uscourts. gov, under file number 21-cv-62182.