Donald Ellsworth

Special Agent (SA)

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Donald (Don) Ellsworth began his career with IRS-CI in 2002 when hired as an IRS Special Agent in Phoenix, AZ.  As a criminal investigator, he conducted a wide array of financial investigations involving tax evasion, mortgage fraud, telemarketing fraud, money laundering, and other financial crimes.  As a special agent, he is also trained in Undercover Operations, virtual currency, and cyber investigations. 

In late 2006, SA Ellsworth was assigned to the Arizona Mortgage Fraud Task Force.  Working with this task force, he collaborated with a dozen different federal agencies including FBI, HSI, HUD, Secret Service, and local police agencies.  SA Ellsworth investigated organized criminal syndicates consisting of loan officers, escrow agents, appraisers, and nominee buyers attempting to defraud banks out of millions of dollars and subsequently led to the financial and real estate downturn in 2007.   

In 2011, SA Ellsworth was assigned to the OCDETF task force base in Arizona.  In this capacity, SA Ellsworth investigated Drug Trafficking Organizations with ties to International drug cartels. In 2012, during the nationwide epidemic of designer synthetic drugs, i.e. spice and bath salts, SA Ellsworth led an investigation into two of the largest manufacturers and distributors of spice and bath salts in Arizona.  

In 2014, still assigned to the OCDETF task force, SA Ellsworth began to focus on the cyber element of narcotics trafficking and began investigating criminals on the darknet marketplaces using crypto-currencies to further their drug trafficking organizations.  SA Ellsworth developed one of the first cases using the darknet in IRS history.  After initial success, SA Ellsworth helped to assemble a darknet task force in Arizona consisting of special agents from IRS, Homeland Security, Postal Inspection, and the Drug Enforcement Agencies.  This task force is currently investigating international cyber drug trafficking organizations, trafficking narcotics such as fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and using virtual currency to launder the proceeds of their drug trafficking.  SA Ellsworth has testified as an expert witness on the criminal aspects of cryptocurrency in Federal criminal trials. 

SA Ellsworth has trained undercover agents on how to navigate the TOR network and more specifically the darknet marketplaces and forums.  He trained undercover agents on encrypted communications and culture of darknet criminals as well as opening bitcoin wallets and negotiation of virtual currencies.   SA Ellsworth has given numerous cyber-crime/virtual currency presentations and workshops to various groups around the world, to include law enforcement officers, judges, and professionals in the financial industry. 

SA Ellsworth was born in Mesa, Arizona.  He is married with three daughters and a son.  SA Ellsworth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Northern Arizona University and earned an MBA from Utah State University.

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