On Feb. 11, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and officials from field offices of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Michael Ackerman, of Sheffield Lake, Ohio, with fraud and money laundering related to an alleged plot to defraud more than 100 people of more than $35 million through a false cryptocurrency investment scheme. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also filed a complaint against Ackerman, as did the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The SEC's complaint was filed in New York federal court and charges Ackerman with violations of the anti-fraud provisions of federal security laws and seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement plus prejudgment interest and a civil penalty. The CFTC's civil enforcement action in the Southern District of New York was brought against Ackerman and his companies, Q3 Holdings, LLC and Q3 I, LP, charging them with fraudulently soliciting more than $33 million, purportedly to trade digital assets, and misappropriating a large portion of that total.

United States federal prosecutors have charged the CEO of a popular bitcoin media site and founder of a crypto wallet provider with conspiracy to launder money and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. According to an arrest warrant filed earlier this month, Larry Harmon laundered approximately $311 million of bitcoins, which allowed the users of a privacy app named Helix and a darknet search engine named Grams to conduct transactions on AlphaBay, a known dark market shut down in 2017. Helix allowed users to mix their coins before spending them, a tactic that has been associated with money laundering and other illicit activities. Harmon was denied bail. He faces a 30-year prison sentence.

Officials in Sweden this week brought charges against the administrator and four associates involved in running Sweden's largest darknet marketplace for drugs, Flugsvamp 2.0. The charges are reportedly based on a technically advanced investigation where police were able to monitor the suspects' encrypted communications. Suspects are kept anonymous in Sweden; however, the Swedish Police Authority announced that the chief suspect is charged with offenses relating to narcotics, money laundering and falsification of a financial instrument, while the associates are charged with money-laundering offenses.

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