The US FinCEN has slashed the founder and operator of two Bitcoin mixing platforms with a $60 million fine. Larry Dean Harmon, the alleged person is reported to have run the Helix and Coin Ninja cryptocurrency mixing services between 2014 to 2020 where he advertised and partnered with many dark web marketplaces, and facilitated over 356,000 bitcoin transactions in 2014 to 2020 alone.
Mixing and Moving Bitcoins
Bitcoin tumblers are special services offered in the dark web mostly, which take up users’ Bitcoin payments and mixup their coins with others in a pool but eventually be paying to the service and tallying the books of all parties. This is more secure of sending Bitcoins to others, since highly anonymized, making it hard to trace.
Running such services is illegal, and law enforcement agencies may charge both users and operators in some cases. Here’s one such case where the operator was caught. The Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has slashed Mr. Larry Dean Harmon, who was alleged to be running two Bitcoin mixing services called Helix (2014-17) and Coin Ninja (2017-20).
He has levied a civil money penalty of $60 million for violating the rules of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and running the two platforms as unregistered money services businesses (MSB). It’s found that Harmon advertised his Bitcoin mixers as the anonymous ways for paying to things like “drugs, guns, and child pornography“ in the “darkest spaces of the internet.”
Harmon was reported to have served the transactions of various criminals from narcotics traffickers to counterfeiters. From June 2014 to December 2017, he had facilitated more than 1,225,000 cryptocurrency transactions, resulting in the laundering of more than 356,000 Bitcoins ($311 million).
Also, he was alleged to be partnered with many dark web marketplaces like AlphaBay, Dream Mark, Agora Market, Nucleus, etc during this period. Besides Helix, he was also reported to be running a dark web search engine named Grams, and recommend users of AlphaBay back then as a Bitcoin cleaning service.