“Convicted for Operating a Cryptocurrency Mixer: Roman Sterlingov and his Role in Cybercrime”

Roman Sterlingov Convicted for Operating Cryptocurrency Mixer

Roman Sterlingov, a citizen of Russia and Sweden, was recently convicted by a U.S. federal court for operating a well-known cryptocurrency mixer that facilitated the transfer of approximately $400 million in Bitcoin over a decade of operation.

Arrest and Charges

Sterlingov was arrested in April 2021 in Los Angeles for running Bitcoin Fog, a service frequently used by hackers to obscure the origin of cryptocurrencies. The mixer processed over 1.2 million Bitcoins (BTC) totaling around $400 million, largely associated with activities on the darknet such as drug trafficking, computer fraud, and identity theft.

Defense and Testimonies

Sterlingov, represented by prominent hacker attorney Tor Ekeland, admitted to using the mixer service but denied being its operator or founder. During the trial, Ilya Lichtenstein, a convicted hacker involved in the theft on the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, testified to using Bitcoin Fog to conceal a portion of the stolen funds.

Sentence and Consequences

Sterlingov was found guilty of conspiracy to launder money, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and violations related to money transmissions. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each money laundering charge, posing significant consequences for his operations.

Combatting Cybercrime

Law enforcement agencies are increasingly focusing on the infrastructure that facilitates cybercrime, including cryptocurrency mixers enabling money laundering like Bitcoin Fog or Tornado Cash. One individual suspected of co-creating Tornado Cash will also face legal action for facilitating money laundering, with allegations concerning aiding in over a billion dollars in transactions, including hundreds of millions for the North Korean Lazarus group.

The entire legal process concerning Roman Sterlingov sheds light on the increasingly intricate connections between cybercrime and cryptocurrencies, emphasizing the need to strengthen legal and technological measures to combat such activities.