The Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida, United States, successfully seized over $34 million in crypto connected to illicit Dark Web activities in one of the largest cryptocurrency seizure proceedings yet filed by the US.
According to the statement from U.S. DOJ, law enforcement agents found a South Florida resident who made millions by using an online alias to conduct about 100k illicit item sales.
The South Florida individual sold hacked online account information for famous sites such as HBO, Netflix, and Uber, among others, and used the TOR (The Onion Router) Network to access the Dark Web.
They allegedly used tumblers and unlawful Dark Web money transmitter services to launder one crypto for another in a tactic known as “chain hopping.”
A tumbler is a Dark Web mixing service that collects several crypto transactions and combines them together. The crypto is then distributed to a selected cryptocurrency wallet at random times and in random amounts by the tumbler.
Several cryptocurrency wallets linked to criminal Dark Web activity are already seized by the authorities. The aim is now to conceal the source of the funds.
The assets were confiscated as part of a civil forfeiture complaint, which is a judicial action that’s against the property rather than a person. This form of action does not necessitate the accused’s indictment in order for the assets to be taken away.
Operation TORnado, a combined effort from the OCDETF, cooperation of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, led to this crypto seizure action.
The case was investigated by IRS-CI, FBI, DEA, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitch Hyman and Deputy Chiefs Nicole Grosnoff and Nalina Sombuntham of the Asset Forfeiture Division prosecuted this asset forfeiture case.
The chief prosecutor on Operation TORnado is Monique Botero, Chief of the Southern District of Florida’s International Money Laundering and Narcotics Section.
Last month federal prosecutors in New York charged two men for defrauding investors of over $1 million by running a rug pull scam through an NFT project. Like the Florida case, this investigation was started in January by the IRS-CI and HSI just after the complaint was raised.