The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida have forfeited approximately $34 million worth of cryptocurrency which was linked to ‘Dark Web activity’. Considered one of the largest cryptocurrency forfeiture actions ever filed by the US, the outcome is based on ‘Operation TORnado’, carried out jointly among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The illicit crypto was seized from a South Florida resident, who used a fictional name and earned millions of dollars by executing 100,000 sales of illicit items and hacked online account details on several of the world’s largest Dark Web marketplaces. For instance, the perpetrator (whose name is not revealed yet) hacked online account information for popular services such as HBO, Netflix, and Uber, among others, and accessed the Dark Web by utilising the TOR (The Onion Router) Network.
TOR is a special network of computers distributed around the world designed to anonymise a user’s internet traffic by concealing computers’ Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
“As detailed in the complaint, records analyses revealed that the South Florida resident utilised so-called ‘tumblers’ and illegal Dark Web money transmitter services to launder one cryptocurrency for another — a technique called ‘chain hopping’ — in violation of federal money laundering statutes. The goal is to obscure the original source of funds. Law enforcement agents seized various cryptocurrency wallets associated with the illegal Dark Web conduct,” DOJ mentioned in an official statement. A tumbler is a Dark Web mixing service that pools together multiple cryptocurrency transactions.