Europol seizes $46 million from crypto mixes after $2.88 billion was allegedly laundered
According to The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, known as Europol, on March 15, the agency seized the assets of cryptocurrency mixer ChipMixer for its alleged involvement in money laundering activities. Total assets seized include 1,909.4 Bitcoin (BTC) in 55 transactions worth 44.2 million euros ($46 million). Formerly Decentralized Finance Analyst ZachXBT alleged November 25, 2022, that the hacker(s) of defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX laundered 360 BTC ($5.9 million) using ChipMixer after a $372 million exploit.
In addition, the ChipMixer website has been shut down after authorities seized four servers hosting the application. Europol claims that the application has laundered over 2.73 billion euros since its inception in 2017. According to law enforcement authorities:
“ChipMixer, an unlicensed cryptocurrency mixer set up in mid-2017, specialized in mixing or cutting tracks related to virtual currency funds. The ChipMixer software blocked the blockchain trail of the funds, making it attractive to cybercriminals looking to launder illicit proceeds from criminal activities.”
The investigation and subsequent enforcement was coordinated by the Belgian Federal Police, the Federal Criminal Police of Germany, the Central Cybercrime Bureau of Poland, the Cantonal Police of Zurich Switzerland, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the US Department of Justice. Law enforcement stated that “a large proportion of this is linked to dark web markets, ransomware groups, illegal commodity trading, acquisition of child sexual exploitation material and stolen crypto assets.” Deposited funds into ChipMixer would be converted into “chips”, or small tokens of equivalent value, which were then mixed together to anonymize the initial trace of funds.
“Ransomware actors such as Zeppelin, SunCrypt, Mamba, Dharma or Lockbit have also used this service to launder ransoms they have received. Authorities are also investigating the possibility that some of the crypto assets stolen after the bankruptcy of a major crypto exchange in 2022 were laundered via ChipMixer .”
Europol facilitated the exchange of information between national authorities for the operation. The unit said it “also provided analytical support to link available data to various criminal cases within and outside the EU, and supported the investigation through operational analysis, crypto-tracing and forensic analysis.”