IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Ohio resident pleads guilty to running Bitcoin “mixer” money laundering scheme

More than $300 million went through Darknet-based bitcoin hashing (BTC) service

Bitcoin sitting on edge on a table with several other coins in the background

An Ohio man faces up to 20 years in prison and multimillion-dollar fines after pleading guilty to money laundering conspiracy charges in federal court. 

Larry Dean Harmon pleaded guilty to charges against him, including laundering more than $300 million while running a Darknet-based Bitcoin hashing service called Helix. 

According to a Department of Justice (DoJ)  statement, Harmon laundered more than 350,000 Bitcoins through Helix between 2014 and 2017. Helix functioned as a "Bitcoin mixer," permitting customers to send the cryptocurrency to designated recipients in a manner that concealed the source of the original transfer.

The Helix service enabled users to "mix" their coins with other users' funds to form a common pool of funds. This allowed the coins to become fully anonymous, making tracing these funds difficult, if not impossible.

The defendant said he knew about the illegal origin of the funds funneling through the service. Helix was linked to and affiliated with "Grams," a Darknet search engine also operated by Harmon. Harmon advertised Helix to customers on the Darknet to hide the transactions from law enforcement.

The accused also revealed that Helix worked with several Darknet markets, including AlphaBay, Evolution, Cloud 9, and others, to provide Bitcoin money-laundering services to market customers. Harmon also admitted he conspired with Darknet vendors and marketplace administrators to launder Bitcoins generated through illegal drug trafficking offenses on those Darknet marketplaces.

“Darknet markets and the dealers who sell opioids and other illegal drugs on them are a growing scourge,” said acting US Attorney Channing Phillips for the District of Columbia. 

“They may try to hide their identities and launder millions in sales behind technologies like Helix. But the department and its law enforcement partners will shine a light on their activities, dismantle the infrastructure such criminal marketplaces depend on, and prosecute and convict those responsible.”

During previous hearings, the defendant tried to prove Bitcoin is not money, so he could not be guilty of money laundering. However, Judge Beryl Howell rejected this argument.

“The term ‘money’ generally means a medium of exchange, a method of payment, or a store of value. This is true for Bitcoin,” she ruled. 

As part of the proceedings, 4,400 Bitcoins — a $197 million value at the time of this writing — had been confiscated from Harmon. The date Harmon will receive his verdict has yet to be determined, as prosecutors said

Featured Resources

The state of Salesforce: Future of business

Three articles that look forward into the changing state of Salesforce and the future of business

Free Download

The mighty struggle to migrate SAP to the cloud may be over

A simplified and unified approach to delivering Enterprise Transformation in the cloud

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM FlashSystem

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by FlashSystem

Free Download

Recommended

Surging inflation is driving people to cryptocurrencies
cryptocurrencies

Surging inflation is driving people to cryptocurrencies

11 Aug 2022
What is zero trust?
network security

What is zero trust?

14 Jul 2022
An analysis of the European cyber threat landscape
Whitepaper

An analysis of the European cyber threat landscape

8 Jul 2022
What is cryptocurrency mining?
cryptocurrencies

What is cryptocurrency mining?

27 May 2022

Most Popular

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security
Sponsored

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security

8 Aug 2022
How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

29 Jul 2022
Microsoft successfully tests emission-free hydrogen fuel cell system for data centres
data centres

Microsoft successfully tests emission-free hydrogen fuel cell system for data centres

29 Jul 2022