The US and German authorities have shut down the world’s largest darknet money-laundering platform and seized over EUR 44 million in Bitcoin.
They have also reportedly seized nearly seven terabytes of data after confiscating servers belonging to the world’s top-selling crypto mixer on the dark web, ChipMixer, in Germany.
The company is suspected of having laundered about BTC 154,000 – worth over USD 2.9 billion – since being founded in 2017.
Newsflash obtained a statement from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) on Wednesday, 15th March, saying that it had been working with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as Europol and other organisations.
The BKA explained: “‘ChipMixer’ was a service that had been in existence since mid-2017, which in particular accepted bitcoins of criminal origin in order to pay them out again after concealment processes (so-called ‘mixing’).
“Deposited crypto values were divided into small uniform amounts known as ‘chips’ for the purpose of thwarting investigations. The users’ ‘chips’ were then mixed up, thus concealing the origin of the funds. ‘ChipMixer’ promised its users complete anonymity.”
The way ChipMixer worked can be seen in the footage.
The US DoJ said on Wednesday that one of the operators of ChipMixer, Minh Quoc Nguyen, from Hanoi, in Vietnam, was charged that day in Philadelphia with money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and identity theft.
The DoJ also quoted Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco as saying: “This morning, working with partners at home and abroad, the Department of Justice disabled a prolific cryptocurrency mixer, which has fueled ransomware attacks, state-sponsored crypto-heists and darknet purchases across the globe.
“Today’s coordinated operation reinforces our consistent message: we will use all of our authorities to protect victims and take the fight to our adversaries.
“Cybercrime seeks to exploit boundaries, but the Department of Justice’s network of alliances transcends borders and enables disruption of the criminal activity that jeopardizes our global cybersecurity.”
FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to dismantling technical infrastructure that enables cyber criminals and nation-state actors to illegally launder cryptocurrency funds.”
One of the many accusations ChipMixer faces is tied to Russian intelligence, the DoJ said.
The US authorities explained that ChipMixer had processed “Bitcoin used by the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), 85th Main Special Service Center, military unit 26165 (aka APT 28) to purchase infrastructure for the Drovorub malware, which was first disclosed in a joint cybersecurity advisory released by the FBI and National Security Agency in August 2020.”
The bust was also supported by the Belgian Federal Police, the Polish Cyber Police (Centralnego Biura Zwalczania Cyberprzestępczości) and the Zurich State Police (Kantonspolizei Zuerich), as well as by Europol, the German and American authorities said.
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