Federal Police Pull Down “Dark Web Crypto Laundromat,” Seize Over $40m in BTC

On Wednesday, US and Europe authorities shut down a crypto mixer reportedly utilized by criminals on the dark web to launder money. The agencies also seized Bitcoin worth $41 million.

In its announcement, Europol stated that it collaborated with Swiss, Belgium, US, and Polich enforcement agencies to dismantle the ChipMixer platform, describing it as one of the dark web’s biggest crypto laundromats.

A coin mixer is a platform that lets users hide the movements of their cryptocurrencies. That being said, the authorities alleged that Chipmixer was used to facilitate the largest crypto hacks of last year. Moreover, blockchain analyst ZachXBT took to Twitter to post evidence last November, disclosing that hackers who exploited crypto exchange FTX had used ChipMixer to launder over $440 million in various cryptocurrencies.

Why Criminals Chose ChipMixer to Launder Funds

Authorities revealed that ChipMixer was unregistered, making it attractive to cybercriminals who were seeking to launder illicit proceeds from illegal practices such as weapons trafficking, drug trafficking, payment card fraud, and ransomware attacks.

According to the agencies, some of the notorious criminal organizations that used the platform include mamba, Zeppelin, Lockbit, Dharma, and SunCrypto.

Europol reported that after using ChipMixer, criminals would transfer the laundered cryptocurrencies to various crypto exchanges, though it did not mention any of those trading platforms where funds were deposited.

Authorities Continue to Target Coin Mixers

Coin mixers grabbed headlines in 2022 when US Treasury Department banned American citizens from using Tornado Cash on the grounds that the North Korean state-sponsored crime groups like The Lazarus were using the platform to launder stolen funds.

The US Treasury’s move to restrict US residents from using a platform that allowed them to send and receive ETH anonymously irritated many crypto players and some US politicians who argued that the decision denied Americans their right to privacy.

The Tornado Cash’s main developer Alexey Pertsev was later arrested by the Dutch Police.

Meanwhile, a developer who contributed to building Tornado Cash is working on another coin mixer called Privacy Pool, which they hope won’t attract interest from the authorities once it goes live. Earlier this month, the developer released a demo of the platform.

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