October 26, 2021

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Individual Arrested and Charged with Operating Notorious Darknet Cryptocurrency “Mixer”

20 min read
<div>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.</div>
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.

More from: April 28, 2021

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  • Statement of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on the Anniversary of the Death of Congressman John Lewis
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    Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued the following statement today commemorating the life of Congressman John Lewis:
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  • Nuclear Weapons: Action Needed to Address the W80-4 Warhead Program’s Schedule Constraints
    In U.S GAO News
    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a separately organized agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), has identified a range of risks facing the W80-4 nuclear warhead life extension program (LEP)—including risks related to developing new technologies and manufacturing processes as well as reestablishing dormant production capabilities. NNSA is managing these risks using a variety of processes and tools, such as a classified risk database. However, NNSA has introduced potential risk to the program by adopting a date (September 2025) for the delivery of the program's first production unit (FPU) that is more than 1 year earlier than the date projected by the program's own schedule risk analysis process (see figure). NNSA and Department of Defense (DOD) officials said that they adopted the September 2025 date partly because the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2015 specifies that NNSA must deliver the first warhead unit by the end of fiscal year 2025, as well as to free up resources for future LEPs. However, the statute allows DOE to obtain an extension, and, according to best practices identified in GAO's prior work, program schedules should avoid date constraints that do not reflect program realities. Adopting an FPU date more consistent with the date range identified as realistic in the W80-4 program's schedule risk analysis, or justifying an alternative date based on other factors, would allow NNSA to better inform decision makers and improve alignment between schedules for the W80-4 program and DOD's long-range standoff missile (LRSO) program. W80-4 Life Extension Program Phases and Milestone Dates NNSA substantially incorporated best practices in developing the preliminary lifecycle cost estimate for the W80-4 LEP, as reflected in the LEP's weapon design and cost report. GAO assessed the W80-4 program's cost estimate of $11.2 billion against the four characteristics of a high quality, reliable cost estimate: comprehensive, well-documented, accurate, and credible. To develop a comprehensive cost estimate, NNSA instituted processes to help ensure consistency across the program. The program also provided detailed documentation to substantiate its estimate and assumptions. To help ensure accuracy, the cost estimate drew on historic data from prior LEPs. Finally, to support a credible estimate, NNSA reconciled the program estimate with an independent cost estimate. GAO considers a cost estimate to be reliable if the overall assessment ratings for each of the four characteristics are substantially or fully met—as was the case with the W80-4 program's cost estimate in its weapon design and cost report, which substantially met each characteristic. To maintain and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, NNSA and DOD conduct LEPs. In 2014, they began an LEP to produce a warhead, the W80-4, to be carried on the LRSO missile. In February 2019, NNSA adopted an FPU delivery date of fiscal year 2025 for the W80-4 LEP, at an estimated cost of about $11.2 billion over the life of the program. The explanatory statement accompanying the 2018 appropriation included a provision for GAO to review the W80-4 LEP. This report examines, among other objectives, (1) the risks NNSA has identified for the W80-4 LEP, and processes it has established to manage them, and (2) the extent to which NNSA's lifecycle cost estimate for the LEP aligned with best practices. GAO reviewed NNSA's risk management database and other program information; visited four NNSA sites; interviewed NNSA and DOD officials; and assessed the program's cost estimate using best practices established in prior GAO work. GAO is making two recommendations, including that NNSA adopt a W80-4 program FPU delivery date based on the program's schedule risk analysis, or document its justification for not doing so. NNSA generally disagreed with GAO's recommendations. GAO continues to believe that its recommendations are valid, as discussed in the report. For more information, contact Allison B. Bawden at (202) 512-3841 or bawdena@gao.gov.
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  • Voters with Disabilities: State and Local Actions and Federal Resources to Address Accessibility of Early Voting
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Selected states and localities have taken steps to make voting prior to Election Day accessible for people with disabilities, but election officials and advocacy officials reported that challenges persist. Election officials reported taking steps to make in-person early voting accessible such as addressing barriers to physical access and providing accessible voting equipment (see figure), but election and advocacy officials reported challenges including physical obstacles such as gravel parking lots and voting equipment not being set up properly. Voting by mail may be an accessible option and has been used more frequently by those with disabilities than others. However, election and advocacy officials also noted that some voters with disabilities have difficulty marking paper mail ballots; six of seven states GAO contacted offer them electronic delivery and marking options. Steps Taken by Selected States and Localities to Make Early In-Person Voting Accessible Selected states and localities have taken steps to make voting information available and accessible, but voters with disabilities may encounter challenges with both. States and some localities have provided information about accessible voting options on their websites, but advocacy officials reported challenges, such as one state not providing information about the accessibility features of its voting equipment. States have also taken steps to make websites accessible, such as ensuring compatibility with screen readers used by people with visual disabilities. However, election and advocacy officials reported, among other things, that some website content such as digital materials, lacks accessibility features and some content is not written in plain language. Federal agencies have assisted state and local election officials in their efforts to ensure accessible voting. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has provided guidance and educational resources on voting accessibility, such as a checklist for assessing polling places, which some selected states and localities have found useful. The Election Assistance Commission (EAC)—a national clearinghouse of information about election administration—has also provided resources on topics such as accessible voting equipment and partnering with disability advocates. However, selected states and localities GAO contacted reported mixed feedback on the usefulness of EAC resources. Although the EAC communicates regularly with election officials, it does not have a mechanism for collecting and using feedback from these officials about the usefulness of its existing accessibility resources or additional resource needs. Implementing such a mechanism would better positon the EAC to meet election officials' needs. Why GAO Did This Study An estimated 38 million Americans with disabilities were eligible to vote in the November 2020 election, according to a Rutgers University study. Federal law generally requires that all aspects of voting be accessible to people with disabilities. Recent increases in voting in person and by mail prior to Election Day have focused attention on these voting modes. GAO was asked to examine the accessibility of voting prior to Election Day and voting information. This report addresses steps taken by selected states and localities to (1) make voting prior to Election Day accessible, and the challenges in doing so; and (2) make voting information available and accessible, and the challenges in doing so. It also addresses (3) DOJ and EAC efforts to assist states and localities with voting accessibility. GAO interviewed state election and advocacy officials in seven states, and local officials in six of the states and reviewed associated documentation. These states were selected to provide variation in turnout between voters with and without disabilities, and election policies, among other factors. The results from these states and localities are not generalizable, but provide perspectives on accessibility. GAO also analyzed 2016 and 2020 data from a nationwide survey of voters, reviewed DOJ and EAC guidance and resources, and interviewed federal officials.
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    The Justice Department today announced charges against a U.S. citizen residing in Ukraine for his alleged participation in a scheme to deceive banks. In a related case, the department filed a civil complaint and secured a temporary restraining order against a ring of individuals and corporations allegedly responsible for using the scheme to steal funds directly from thousands of consumers’ bank accounts.
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  • DOD Systems Modernization: Maintaining Effective Communication Is Needed to Help Ensure the Army’s Successful Deployment of the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) has had long-standing, serious problems with its numerous military component-unique personnel and pay systems, including accurately paying its military personnel on time and monitoring and tracking them to, from, and within their duty stations. For example, in the early 1990s, Army Reserve and National Guard troops received inaccurate or late pay and benefits after serving in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We previously reported that the lack of integration among DOD's multiple military personnel and pay systems, among other things, caused these and similar errors. To address these and other problems, in February 1998, DOD initiated a program to design and implement the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS). DIMHRS is intended to provide a joint, integrated, standardized personnel and pay system for all military components (including active and reserve components). In November 2004, DOD accepted the design of the first phase of DIMHRS for personnel and pay functions and then proceeded with development of the system. Meanwhile, as we reported in 2006, some Army Reserve and National Guard troops continued to receive inaccurate pay resulting in part from a lack of integration in Army personnel and pay systems. Furthermore, personnel and pay problems have been exacerbated by the hundreds of thousands of military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, whose families depend on receiving accurate and timely pay, in addition to DOD's need to track military personnel in and out of theater. DOD is concurrently working with the Army, Air Force, and Navy, but the Army is to be the first to deploy DIMHRS. Therefore, we focused our review on DOD's plans to deliver the system to the Army for deployment. DOD has planned five DIMHRS deployment dates for the Army with the most recent one scheduled in March 2009. Four of the deployment dates were postponed--April 2006, April 2008, July 2008, and October 2008. As of April 2008, DOD moved the October date to March 2009. DIMHRS uses software referred to as a commercial-off-the-shelf product. According to DIMHRS program officials, including the Deputy Director of the Business Transformation Agency, the product will address all military component requirements. In February 2005, we reported that because DOD was not managing the DIMHRS program effectively, including its requirements, it was at increased risk of not delivering promised system capabilities and benefits on time. Since our 2005 report, we have monitored DOD's progress in managing the DIMHRS program under the authority of the Comptroller General to conduct evaluations on his own initiative. Specifically for this report, our objective was to determine to what extent DOD has effectively communicated the DIMHRS's capabilities to the Army in order for the Army to prepare for deployment of the system in March 2009.DOD has taken some recent steps to improve communications with the Army about DIMHRS's capabilities in an effort to better prepare the Army for deployment of the system in March 2009. However, Army officials still have some concerns about the extent to which Army requirements are being incorporated into DIMHRS. In addition, DOD has not established a clear, well-defined process for maintaining effective communications to better prepare the Army to deploy DIMHRS. Effective communication is a key federal internal control standard that calls for communications to constantly flow down, across, and up the organization to help it achieve all of its objectives. Such communication would improve the Army's understanding of what the system will deliver thus enabling the Army to better design and implement effective business processes to work with DIMHRS. The Army has had problems receiving assurance from DOD about the extent to which its requirements would be included in DIMHRS. For example, in September 2007, when the Army compared versions 3.0 and 3.1 of the system requirements document, it noted that DOD's DIMHRS program office had not effectively communicated with the Army the rationale or negotiated the acceptance of the Army's requirements that were dropped, changed, or both, which were agreed upon in version 3.0. During the Army's review of version 3.1, it identified and submitted 717 issues for DOD to resolve. Furthermore, when communicating changes for version 3.1, the format made it difficult for the Army to perform its comparative analysis. Army officials said that when the DIMHRS program office does not effectively communicate to them the differences between its requirements and the system, they have difficulty conducting a gap analysis between the system's planned capabilities and their own requirements. The gap analysis forms the basis upon which the Army can determine whether it needs to develop or adjust its business processes prior to deploying DIMHRS. DOD recently took steps to improve its communications with the Army about DIMHRS's capabilities and its impact on Army requirements. For example, in May 2008, the DIMHRS program office began to meet with Army officials to discuss the development of a formal process of delivering and adjudicating the documented updates to the design; this includes the differences between the Army's requirements--documented need of what a particular product or service should be or do--and the DIMHRS's requirements, which are documented in the system requirements document. According to Army officials, with respect to version 3.2, they identified 311 issues with 98 issues remaining in July 2008, which the DIMHRS program office is working to resolve. Additionally, in April 2008, the DIMHRS program office shared more detailed information about DIMHRS's capabilities through activities, such as demonstrations of the system capabilities. Moreover, the Deputy Director of the Business Transformation Agency stated that moving the deployment date to March 2009 allowed the DIMHRS program office and the Army the time to communicate about DIMHRS's capabilities. Although these steps have been taken, DOD has not developed and documented a clearly defined process for maintaining effective communications of the differences between DIMHRS's capabilities and Army requirements. Without a clearly defined process for maintaining effective communications, the Army may not be effectively prepared to deploy the system when scheduled, and DOD may deliver a system that will require extensive and expensive investments.
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    The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas alleging that Dallas-based towing company United Tows LLC violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), by unlawfully auctioning off vehicles owned by SCRA-protected servicemembers. 
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  • Defense Ammunition: DOD Meeting Small and Medium Caliber Ammunition Needs, but Additional Actions Are Necessary
    In U.S GAO News
    Following the end of the Cold War, the Department of Defense (DOD) significantly reduced its purchases of small and medium caliber ammunition and reduced the number of government-owned plants that produce small and medium caliber ammunition. Since 2000, however, DOD's requirements for these types of ammunition have increased notably. Because the success of military operations depends in part on DOD having a sufficient national technology and industrial base to meet its ammunition needs, Congress asked GAO to review DOD's ability to assess if its supplier base can meet small and medium caliber ammunition needs. Specifically, we (1) identified changes over the past several years that have increased the requirement for small and medium caliber ammunition, (2) assessed the actions DOD has taken to address the increased requirement, and (3) determined how DOD plans to ensure that it can meet future small and medium caliber ammunition needs.DOD's increased requirements for small and medium caliber ammunition over the past several years are largely the result of increased weapons training requirements needed to support the Army's transformation to a more self-sustaining and lethal force--an effort accelerated after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001--and the deployment of forces to conduct recent U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Between fiscal years 2000 and 2005, total requirements for small caliber ammunitions more than doubled, from about 730 million to nearly 1.8 billion rounds, while total requirements for medium caliber ammunitions increased from 11.7 million rounds to almost 22 million rounds. DOD has initiated several steps to meet the increased demand, including funding about $93.3 million for modernization improvements at the three government-owned ammunition plants producing small and medium caliber ammunition. DOD is currently able to meet its medium caliber requirement through modernization efforts at the government-owned ammunition plants and through contracts with commercial producers. The government-owned plant producing small caliber ammunition cannot meet the increased requirements, even with these modernization efforts. Also, commercial producers within the national technology and industrial base have not had the capacity to meet these requirements. As a result, DOD has had to rely at least in part on foreign commercial producers to meet its small caliber ammunition needs. DOD has taken steps to ensure that the national technology and industrial base can meet future small caliber ammunition needs by building flexibility into the acquisition system to address fluctuations. In addition, a planning process has been put in place to ensure that the base can respond to longer-term DOD ammunition needs, including small and medium caliber ammunition. While the process is ongoing, information to effectively implement the plan and timely performance measures to ensure accountability are lacking.
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  • Military Personnel: DOD Needs Data to Determine if Active Duty Service Has an Impact on the Ability of Guard and Reservists to Maintain Their Civilian Professional Licenses or Certificates
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 2001, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on more than 600,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve components to support various operations abroad and at home. In particular, from September 2001 to July 2007, the department deployed more than 434,000 reservists to support operations in DOD's Central Command area of responsibility that includes Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore, DOD has modified its mobilization policy, which had previously limited the cumulative amount of time that reservists could be involuntarily called to active duty for the Global War on Terrorism. Under DOD's new policy, which went into effect in January 2007, involuntary mobilizations for reserve component service members are generally limited to no more than 12 months, and there are no cumulative limits on these involuntary mobilizations. While on active duty, reservists may be unable to take the required professional development courses or periodic tests needed to retain their professional currency in fields such as accounting or software engineering. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects rights of qualifying National Guard members, reservists, and certain other members of the uniformed services returning to their civilian employment after being absent due to military service. The act, however, does not explicitly address issues related to licenses and certifications. In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Congress mandated that we examine the number and type of professional or other licensure or certification requirements that may be adversely affected by extended periods of active duty, and identify options that would help provide relief. Specifically for this report, our objectives were to examine (1) DOD's efforts to identify the extent to which active duty service has had an impact on the ability of reservists to maintain professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers, and (2) current relief options for addressing these issues if needed.The degree to which reservists serving on active duty have had difficulty maintaining professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers is unclear, because neither DOD's Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs nor the reserve components collect the necessary data to track and monitor the issue. While all members of the Ready Reserve are required to provide their civilian employment information upon joining the reserves and to review and update that information each year, the required information includes employment status, the employer's name, the employer's mailing address, the civilian's job title, and the total number of years in the current occupation, but does not include information on the impact active duty service potentially has on maintaining licenses and certifications. Officials at DMDC, which administers DOD's departmentwide Status of Forces Survey, confirmed that surveys of reservists conducted to date have not inquired about the impact of active duty service on a reservist's ability to maintain civilian professional licenses and certifications. Without any initial information on the scope of the issue, DOD is unable to identify the extent, if any, of the impact of active duty on the ability of reservists to maintain professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers. DOD's Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs has not established relief policies and practices specifically designed to assist reservists in maintaining their civilian credentials. However, relief mechanisms do exist that may be applicable or serve as a model if DOD determines that a need exists to address the issue of expired professional licenses and certification. Some states, for example, have enacted provisions to provide relief to reservists in certain circumstances. In addition, different entities within DOD have developed programs and initiatives to assist servicemembers in obtaining licenses and certification. Further, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness administers a program for military spouses who have experienced similar challenges maintaining civilian professional licenses and certifications because of their partner's active duty obligations. Although the focus of that program is on providing assistance to military spouses to acquire new licenses and certifications, military spouses who need to renew their credentials upon relocating, such as nurses, are also eligible. DOD reviewed a draft of this report but did not provide formal agency comments. DOD did provide technical comments and we made changes to the report where appropriate.
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