Ohio Man Admits to Operating Illegal Bitcoin ‘Mixer’ Service

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An Ohio man pleaded guilty this week to operating an illegal bitcoin “mixer” service that laundered more than $300 million in cryptocurrency for users of darknet marketplaces, according to the Department of Justice. Larry Dean Harmon of Akron, Ohio, admitted Wednesday to operating a darknet site called Helix, which acted as a cryptocurrency money laundering service from 2014 to 2017 and was associated with several notorious underground marketplaces, including AlphaBay Evolution, Cloud 9 and several others, federal prosecutors say. Helix functioned as a bitcoin mixer and “tumbler” for darknet users who wanted to hide the origins of their virtual currency, according to the Justice Department. Tumbling is the process of using a third-party service or technology to launder bitcoins, while mixing involves breaking the “connection between a bitcoin address sending coins and the addresses that they are sent to,” according to a 2016 blog post published by Will Gragido, a security researcher at Digital Shadows.

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