Non-payment of federal income tax on cryptocurrency earnings leads to conviction for south Florida resident


Date: October 3, 2022


MIAMI — Ethan Thomas Trainor, has pled guilty to attempted tax evasion. Trainor used sophisticated on-line techniques to conceal from the IRS over $1 million in cryptocurrency he earned through illegal dark web transactions.

During a hearing in Ft. Lauderdale before U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith, Trainor admitted that he used cryptocurrency to buy and sell hacked online account logins (usernames and passwords) on dark web marketplaces. The hacked logins were connected to paid movie and music streaming services, pornography websites, educational websites, ride-share service accounts, and other on-line services.

Taxpayers who transact business in cryptocurrency must report their virtual earnings to the IRS and pay federal taxes on that income. From 2014 to 2017, Trainor earned over $1 million in cryptocurrency through dark web transactions and tried to avoid paying taxes on it by using services and techniques designed to conceal that the money was his. For example, Trainor ran his virtual currency transactions through "mixers," on-line services that pool together (mix) the cryptocurrency transactions of different users, then distribute "clean" cryptocurrency to the users' virtual wallets. The mixing makes it harder to determine the identity of those dealing in the cryptocurrency.

Trainor is scheduled to be sentenced in December. He faces up to five years in federal prison.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami; Deanne L. Reuter, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Miami, Robert M. DeWitt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami; Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami; and Juan A. Vargas, Acting Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami, announced the conviction.

IRS-CI Miami, DEA Miami, FBI Miami, HSI Miami, and USPIS Miami investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Monique Botero is prosecuting it.

This case and prosecution were carried out by members of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The South Florida HIDTA, established in 1990, is made up of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who, cooperatively, target the region's drug-trafficking and money laundering organizations. The South Florida HIDTA is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which sponsors a variety of initiatives focused on the nation's illicit drug trafficking threats.

This prosecution was part of Operation TORnado, which is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime. The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.