The FBI seizes $34 million in crypto from a guy who sold personal information about internet users
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida confiscated almost $34 million in cryptocurrency associated with illegal Dark Web activity in one of the largest crypto forfeiture procedures ever conducted by the United States.
FBI agents identified a South Florida resident using an online alias who made millions selling “over 100,000 sales of illicit items and hacked online account information” on some of the world’s largest Dark Web markets, according to a civil forfeiture case disclosed by the United States Department of Justice on April 5.
Notably, the person profited from the sale of stolen online account information for prominent online services such as HBO, Netflix, and Uber, among others, after getting access to the Dark Web via the usage of the TOR browser (The Onion Router Network).
How did he get the funds?
Following an investigation, it was determined that the suspect violated federal money-laundering laws by using so-called “tumblers” and unlawful Dark Web money transmitter services to launder bitcoins from one exchange to the next—a practice known in the field as “chain hopping.”
On the Dark Web, a tumbler is a service that aggregates several crypto transactions. The tumbler then distributes the bitcoin at random intervals and in random quantities, according to a predefined formula. The objective is to disguise the source of the funding.
The forfeiture case, in particular, is the result of Operation TORnado, a joint investigation that sprang out of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force’s (OCDETF) ongoing efforts to coordinate federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities.
The main objective of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and eliminate high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other high-risk transnational criminal organizations that represent a threat to the US people.
German authorities shut down a Bitcoin exchange and seize $25 million worth of cryptocurrency. Additionally, in Germany, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), stated on April 5 that it had shut down the illicit Russian-language darknet marketplace Hydra, the world’s largest network of its sort.
At the time of the search, German investigators seized 543 Bitcoins valued at around 23 million euros ($25 million).
As stated by BKA: “The platform’s Bitcoin Bank Mixer, a tool for disguising digital transactions, significantly harmed law enforcement agencies’ ability to conduct crypto investigations.”
Notably, investigations into the unlawful marketplace started in August 2021 and included a number of US government agencies as well as representatives from a number of other nations.