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

How virtual desktop infrastructure enables digital transformation

Challenges and benefits of VDI

Free download

The Okta digital trust index

Exploring the human edge of trust

Free download

Optimising workload placement in your hybrid cloud

Deliver increased IT agility with the cloud

Free Download

Modernise endpoint protection and leave your legacy challenges behind

The risk of keeping your legacy endpoint security tools

Download now

Recommended

El Salvador announces plans to build a 'Bitcoin city' at the foot of a volcano
cryptocurrencies

El Salvador announces plans to build a 'Bitcoin city' at the foot of a volcano

22 Nov 2021
TikTok phishing campaign tried to scam over 125 influencer accounts
social media

TikTok phishing campaign tried to scam over 125 influencer accounts

18 Nov 2021
Smart luggage is not so smart when it comes to cyber security
cyber security

Smart luggage is not so smart when it comes to cyber security

15 Nov 2021
Europol reveals how ransomware gangs are evolving to evade capture
cyber crime

Europol reveals how ransomware gangs are evolving to evade capture

12 Nov 2021

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

6 Jan 2022
How to speed up Windows 11
Microsoft Windows

How to speed up Windows 11

7 Jan 2022
Synology DiskStation DS2422+ review: A cube of great capacity
network attached storage (NAS)

Synology DiskStation DS2422+ review: A cube of great capacity

10 Jan 2022