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DOJ seizes $34 million of crypto from the dark web seller

The DOJ claims this is one of the largest cryptocurrency forfeiture actions ever filed.

BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 13: In this photo illustration a novelty Bitcoin token is placed on a computer keyboard, on March 13, 2022 in Bristol, England. Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, cryptocurrency analysts say millions of US dollars has so far been donated to the Ukrainian war effort through anonymous Bitcoin donations, with the Ukrainian government, and many NGOs and volunteer groups all advertising their Bitcoin wallet addresses online.  However, fears have also been raised that the use of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, maybe used by the Russian government to circumnavigate the tough economic sanctions that have been imposed. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Matt Cardy via Getty Images
Sam Rutherford
Sam Rutherford|@samrutherford|April 4, 2022 5:50 PM

In what the DOJ calls one of the largest cryptocurrency civil forfeiture filings in US history, the Southern District of Florida has successfully seized around $34 million worth of coins and tokens from a seller on the dark web.

According to a recent release, the illicit crypto was seized from a South Florida resident who used an online alias to sell more than 100,000 illicit items across marketplaces on the dark web. The bulk of the sales is said to be hacked account info from a number of major services including HBO, Netflix, Uber and others.

Prosecutors from the Southern District of Florida say the resident used TOR (The Onion Router) to access the dark web, before using a series of tumblers to convert one cryptocurrency to another in order to hide its source. This series of actions is often called chain hopping and is considered a form of money laundering, which obviously a big no-no at both the federal and state levels. 

Eventually, proceeds from the illicit sales were deposited in random increments at random times in designated crypto wallets, which were later recovered by law enforcement. Between May 16th, 2017 and June 19th, 2017, authorities seized approximately 919.3 Ethereum, 643 Bitcoins, 640 Bitcoin Gold, 640 Bitcoin Cash and 640 Bitcoin SV

The DOJ says the civil forfeiture filing comes as a result of Operation TORnado, which is a joint investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) across multiple federal, state and local agencies.

However, while that $34 million sum (which was worth as much as $47 million at one point based on court docs) is certainly a lot, given the growing popularity of crypto, it almost certainly won't be one of the largest seizures for long. 

DOJ seizes $34 million of crypto from the dark web seller