Dutch Police, Europol seize crypto transaction mixing service Bestmixer.io
Thu, 23 May 2019, 05:40 am UTC
In a major crackdown on a leading crypto mixing service, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), in collaboration with Europol and the authorities in Luxembourg, has seized servers of Bestmixer.io.
According to a press release dated May 22, the FIOD worked with the internet security company McAfee on the investigation which started last June. It has successfully seized six servers running in the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Cryptocurrency mixing involves mixing potentially identifiable or 'tainted' cryptocurrency funds with others in order to make it difficult to trace them back to their original source.
Started in May 2018, Bestmixer.io offered services for mixing the cryptocurrencies bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC) and guaranteed the customers that they would remain anonymous. In the past year, it achieved a turnover of at least $200 million (approx. 27,000 bitcoins).
Europol said that that the ongoing investigation suggests that many of the mixed cryptocurrencies on Bestmixer.io had a criminal origin or destination, adding that the mixing service was “probably used to conceal and launder criminal flows of money.”
Dave Jevans, CipherTrace CEO, said that Bestmixer was also known for its crypto dusting” activities, where it sends small amounts of bitcoin to tens of thousands of addresses in an attempt to defeat cryptocurrency anti-money laundering tools, and to simultaneously advertise their services.
“Today’s Bestmixer seizure shows an increase in law enforcement activities on pure crypto-to-crypto services,” he said. “This follows on the heels of European AMLD5 regulations and the views expressed by US FinCEN that crypto-to-crypto services are considered to be money services businesses and must comply with those regulations. This is the first public seizure of a bitcoin mixing service, and shows that not only are dark marketplaces subject to criminal enforcement, but other services are as well.
Europol said that it will now collaborate with the FIOD to analyse the information gathered during the investigation including IP-addresses, transaction details, bitcoin addresses and chat messages. It added that the intelligence packages will be shared with other countries as well.
“Bestmixer has blatantly advertised money laundering services, and falsely claimed to be domiciled in Curacao where they claimed it was a legal service. The reality is that they were operating in Europe and services customers from many countries around the world,” Jevans said.
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