The growth and adoption of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long been subdued by the notion that they are tied to the dark web and the criminal world. This perception is basically because the crypto technology started as a payment method on darknet marketplaces.
Over the years, this narrative has been gradually disappearing. However, traces of it still exist among the state administration and retail investors. This has played a huge part in the technology’s slow adoption worldwide.
Well, this is symbolized by the United States’ latest 2021 fiscal budget proposal. Cryptocurrency crimes seem to be an area of concern. Trump’s latest budget proposal seeks to crack down digital currency-related crimes in the near future.
Moreover, the recent reports of a massive $300 million money laundry scheme further strengthen the tale. The plot which was just recently busted by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) may be the poster child of the government’s strengthening account against Bitcoin.
DoJ Indicts Ohio Man for Laundering $300M in Bitcoin on the Dark Web
The DoJ charged Larry Harmon earlier this week for allegedly conspiring to launder $300 million using Bitcoin. Harmon ran the Helix money laundry scheme which had advanced operations that helped clean money used for transactions. As per the DoJ, Helix laundered the money through a dark market place called AlphaBay.
“Helix functioned as a bitcoin ‘mixer’ or ‘tumbler,’ allowing customers, for a fee, to send bitcoin to designated recipients in a manner that was designed to conceal the source or owner of the bitcoin.”
In addition, Harmon lured users by acclaiming to conceal cash transfers from law enforcement. On top of Helix, Harmon also ran a Dark Web search tool dubbed Grams. The Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Brian Benczkowski commented on the matter through the press release saying:
“Helix allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of illicit narcotics proceeds and other criminal profits for Darknet users around the globe…This indictment underscores that seeking to obscure virtual currency transactions in this way is a crime, and that the Department can and will ensure that such crime doesn’t pay.”
Furthermore, Harmon’s accusations include that Helix outfit transferred more than 350,000 Bitcoin; valued at over $300 million at the time.In addition, the illegal business also powered money laundry schemes of other users on AlphaBay. According to the DoJ, AlphaBay is a heavily trafficked Dark Web Vendor.
Government’s Case Against Crypto Strengthens
Moving forward, Donald Trump’s recently proposed budget mentions the term cryptocurrency twice. On both occasions, the term is directly associated to funding terrorism and other criminal activities.
The budget also highlights that the Secret Service to be returned back to their original duty in the Treasury. Initially, the Secret Service was formed to investigate financial crimes and protect presidents. This move is particularly to provide more oversight to the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry.
In conclusion, it is still not clear whether involving the Secret Service in the digital currency industry will reap more advantages or disadvantages. However, it is crystal clear that the recent Bitcoin money laundry indictment by the DoJ; will drive the government into increasing its involvement and oversight in the market.