Authorities in Germany and the US, with support from Europol, have shut down ChipMixer, a well-known cryptocurrency mixer used in the cybercriminal underworld to launder illegal proceeds from criminal activities such as drug and weapons trafficking, ransomware attacks, and payment card fraud.
What is ChipMixer?
ChipMixer was established in mid-2017 as an unlicensed cryptocurrency mixer, providing services on both the clear and dark web, and specialised in anonymising all blockchain trails related to virtual currency assets. The platform’s software converted deposited funds into “chips,” small tokens with equivalent value, which were then mixed together, making it attractive to cybercriminals looking to launder illegal proceeds. The service provided anonymity to clients, making it easier to redirect laundered crypto assets to cryptocurrency exchanges, some of which are in the service of organised crime.
Details of Shutdown:
On 15 March, national authorities took down the infrastructure of the platform, seizing four servers, approximately 1909.4 Bitcoins in 55 transactions (approximately EUR 44.2 million), and 7 TB of data. Authorities are investigating the possibility that some of the crypto assets stolen after the bankruptcy of a large crypto exchange in 2022 were laundered via ChipMixer. The investigation also suggests that the platform may have facilitated the laundering of 152,000 Bitcoins worth roughly EUR 2.73 billion in current estimations, connected to dark web markets, ransomware groups, illicit goods trafficking, procurement of child sexual exploitation material, and stolen crypto assets.
The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) at Europol supported the operation, with cybercrime liaison officers from different countries working on high-profile cybercrime investigations. Europol facilitated the information exchange between national authorities and supported the coordination of the operation, providing analytical support linking available data to various criminal cases within and outside the EU. Europol also supported the investigation through operational analysis, crypto tracing, and forensic analysis.
The takedown of ChipMixer underscores the ongoing efforts by law enforcement agencies and regulators to clamp down on money laundering and other criminal activities associated with cryptocurrencies. With the anonymity provided by such platforms, cybercriminals have been able to launder millions of dollars of illegal proceeds. However, the takedown of ChipMixer shows that the authorities are stepping up their efforts to crack down on these activities, with the assistance of international partners. It is hoped that such efforts will help to restore trust in cryptocurrencies and prevent them from being used for criminal activities.
Image Source :Jerry Lampen/AFP via Getty Images
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