US law enforcement authorities arrested Roman Sterlingov, an alleged operator of the bitcoin nebula, in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The documents show that Sterling is accused of laundering more than 1.2 million bitcoins through the Bitcoin Mist Mixer, a tool that allows users to mix transactions. According to federal investigators, Sterling ran the operation for 10 years and processed $336 million worth of BTC transactions.
US government indicted for bitcoin money laundering
The US government has charged and arrested Roman Sterlingov, a Russian and Swedish citizen, with money laundering using a bitcoin shuffler. Sterling was originally the chief administrator of the Bitcoin Mist operation, which used a Coinjoin-based mixing tool to mix BTC UTXO.
Bitcoin Fog can be found on Tor via the Onion address, it requires a mandatory registration and a minimum deposit of 0.01 BTC to use the platform. However, the registration process was not linked to an email, but only required a username and password.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accused Sterling of enabling money laundering by not tracking payments. Federal prosecutors believe Sterling received about $8 million for his services to BTC, receiving about 2% of the fee for the mix on Bitcoin Fog. Sterling is accused of recycling 1.2 million BTC, which were worth about $336 million at the time of all the payments.
Analysis of bitcoin transactions, financial records, ISP data, email records and other investigative information identifies Roman Sterlingov as the main operator of Bitcoin Fog, said Devon Beckett, IRS special agent in charge of criminal investigations. Sterling is charged with unlicensed transfers, money laundering, and unlicensed transfers.
Blockchain analysis unmasks the bitcoin fog operator in 2011.
Andy Greenberg, co-founder of Cenalise Jonathan Levine, commented on the situation. Greenberg’s report states that Sterligov’s alleged transactions in 2011 provided the IRS with the evidence it needed to nail him. Sterling apparently used these transactions to set up the Bitcoin Fog server.
It’s another example of how, with the right tools, researchers can use the transparency of cryptocurrencies to monitor illicit money flows, said Greenberg, head of Chainalysis.
What do you think about alleged Bitcoin operator Fog being accused of transferring money without a license? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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