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    Founders of Samourai Wallet Arrested for Allegedly Laundering Over $100 Million

    In a significant crackdown on cryptocurrency crimes, the founders of Samourai Wallet, a mobile app designed for cryptocurrency mixing, have been arrested and face serious charges. Keonne Rodriguez, CEO, and William Lonergan Hill, CTO, are accused of operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business that reportedly facilitated more than $2 billion in illicit transactions, including over $100 million directly linked to money laundering.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office released a statement detailing the charges, which include conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating without a necessary financial license. According to the press release, the pair developed and marketed Samourai Wallet as a tool that executed massive amounts of illegal transactions sourced from dark web markets like Silk Road and Hydra Market, as well as other fraudulent activities.

    “Rodriguez and Hill purposefully provided a platform that acted as a safe harbor for criminals to exchange illegal funds under the radar of law enforcement,” stated Damian Williams, US Attorney. “Over the course of nearly a decade, they facilitated over $100 million in transactions derived from criminal activities such as hacking and various fraud schemes.”

    Law enforcement agencies have seized the web servers and domain of Samourai Wallet as part of the investigation. The FBI highlights the gravity of the operation, with Assistant Director James Smith emphasizing the scale and impact of the criminal enterprise: “This mobile cryptocurrency mixing service not only enabled over $2 billion in illegal transactions but also specialized in laundering significant sums from the dark web.”

    Operating from 2015 to 2024, Rodriguez and Hill reportedly earned millions in fees from the services offered by Samourai Wallet. The application boasted over 100,000 downloads and was pitched as a privacy-enhancing tool, while effectively providing criminals with methods to obscure the origin of illicit funds. Features like Whirlpool and Ricochet were specifically designed to complicate the tracing of transactions on the blockchain and add unnecessary steps to transactions to evade detection.

    Whirlpool coordinated batches of cryptocurrency exchanges among users to disguise the origins of funds, while Ricochet added multiple intermediary transactions to further shield criminal proceeds from being traced. According to the press release, these services processed approximately 80,000 Bitcoin, valued at around $2 billion, collecting fees estimated at $3.4 million for Whirlpool and $1.1 million for Ricochet.

    The charges against Rodriguez, aged 35, and Hill, aged 65, are severe, with potential sentences of up to 25 years in prison if convicted on all counts. This case marks a significant moment in the ongoing efforts of U.S. authorities to combat cryptocurrency-related crimes and highlights the challenges of regulating digital financial transactions.

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