An American man pleaded guilty to laundering more than $300 million in bitcoins (BTC) between 2014 and 2017. Larry Dean Harmon was the owner of a dark web crypto-currency laundering service known as Helix. In addition, he is also charged in US court with operating an unauthorized money-sending business and conducting transactions without proper licenses.
“Harmon admitted that Helix has partnered with several dark web markets, including AlphaBay, Evolution, Cloud 9 and others, to provide bitcoin money laundering services to industry customers,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement. press release.
Operations took place between 2014 and 2017
In total, Helix handled more than 350 thousand bitcoins, an amount that, considering the quotation at the time of the transactions, is valued at a little over US$300 million. Authorities also claimed that most of their customers came from the dark web. Harmon was formally charged with three crimes in February 2020: laundering money, operating an illegal foreign exchange business, and converting without a license to do so.
As of April 2014, Harmon also owned and operated the dark web search engine called “Grams,” according to court documents. Back in July of the same year, he put Helix to work, a service that allowed anyone to wash bitcoins, hiding its original owner in the process through cryptocoin camouflage techniques and pool mixers.
As early as November 2016, Harmon partnered with AlphaBay, considered the biggest dark web market between December 2014 and July 2017, and “recommended its customers to use a “bitcoin scrambler” service to “erase any trace of [suas] coins”, adds the document.
Harmon began shutting down its operations on Grams and Helix around December 2017 and announced the platform’s shutdown in a Reddit thread under the GramsAdmin user. Now, he has admitted the crimes and has agreed to hand over more than 4,400 bitcoins (valued at more than $200 million) and other confiscated property involved in the money laundering scheme.
Harmon faces 3 crimes and a sentence of up to 20 years
The criminal faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, as well as a $500,000 fine, a three-year period of supervised release and mandatory restitution. In October 2020, the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also announced a fine against Larry Dean Harmon for violating the Banking Secrecy Act (BSA) and its regulations while operating two utilities. unrecorded financial statements.
Harmon was the operator of the “Helix bitcoin tumbler” between 2014 and 2017 and the CEO of bitcoin startup Coin Ninja from 2017 to 2020, when he was arrested on money laundering charges. Based on FinCEN’s investigations, while operating the Helix cryptocurrency scrambler, Harmon became involved in transactions with counterfeiters, fraudsters, narcotics dealers and other criminals.
Authorities also noted that between June 2014 and December 2017, Harmon conducted more than 1,225,000 transactions through Helix, laundering in total just over $311 million.
I ateInformation: BleepingComputer