Roman Sterlingov Bitcoin Fog Operator Arrested and Charged
April 29, 2021
Bitcoin Fog Service Allegedly Laundered $335 Million in
Cryptocurrency Since 2011
A dual Russian-Swedish national was arrested Tuesday at Los
Angeles International Airport on criminal charges related to his
alleged operation of the longest-running bitcoin money
laundering service on the darknet.
According to court documents, Roman Sterlingov, 32, operated
Bitcoin Fog since 2011. Bitcoin Fog was the longest-running
cryptocurrency “mixer,” gaining notoriety as a go-to money
laundering service for criminals seeking to hide their illicit
proceeds from law enforcement. Over the course of its
decade-long operation, Bitcoin Fog moved over 1.2 million
bitcoin – valued at approximately $335 million at the time of
the transactions. The bulk of this cryptocurrency came from
darknet marketplaces and was tied to illegal narcotics, computer
fraud and abuse activities, and identity theft.
Sterlingov is charged by complaint with money laundering,
operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and money
transmission without a license in the District of Columbia.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the
Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney
Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia; Acting Special
Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of IRS-Criminal Investigation
(IRS-CI); and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono
of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
IRS-CI District of Columbia Cyber Crime Unit and the FBI
Washington Field Office are investigating the case. Essential
support was provided by Excygent; the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field
Office, Van Nuys Post of Duty; FBI Los Angeles Field Office;
Homeland Security Investigations; Customs and Border Patrol; the
U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Central District of California,
Northern District of California, and Southern District of New
York; and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S.
Department of Treasury. The Department of Justice’s Office of
International Affairs provided invaluable assistance, as did
Europol; the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, the Swedish
Prosecution Authority, and the Swedish Police; and the General
Inspectorate of Romanian Police, Directorate for Combatting
Organized Crime and the Directorate for Investigating Organized
Crime and Terrorism.
Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s
Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant
U.S. Attorney Christopher B. Brown of the U.S. Attorney’s Office
for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case, with
assistance from Paralegal Specialist Chad Byron. Former
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Youli Lee and Zia Faruqui made
invaluable contributions during their tenures on the case team.
The team also appreciates the previous support of Trial Attorney
S. Riane Harper of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property
Section; Paralegal Specialist Kenny Nguyen; former Paralegal
Specialists Toni Anne Donato and Bianca Evans; and former
Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen O’Rourke over the course of this